Dorothy Cross (born 1956) is considered one of Ireland's leading international artists. Working with diverse media, including sculpture, photography, video and installation, she represented Ireland at the 1993 Venice Biennale. Central to her work as a whole are themes of sexual and cultural identity, personal history, memory, and the gaps between the conscious and subconscious.
3 Honors and awards
4 Notable group shows
5 Notable solo shows
6 Works in collections
7 Further reading
9 External links
Cross was born in 1956 in Cork, Ireland, one of three children of Fergus and Dorothy Cross. Her older brother Tom went on to become a zoologist and professor at University College, Cork, while her older sister Jane was a swimmer who was on a team that set a world relay record at the 1985 World Masters Championships. Cross herself was a competitive swimmer in her teens, becoming All-Ireland champion in the 100-meter breaststroke at the age of 15 and going on to win other medals over the next few years.
Cross attended the Crawford Municipal School of Art in Cork before undertaking degree studies at Leicester Polytechnic, England, from 1974 to 1977. She also studied at the San Francisco Art Institute, California, from 1978 to 1979 and 1980 to 1982, where she completed an MFA Degree in printmaking.
Exhibiting regularly since the mid-1980s, Cross came to mainstream public attention with her first major solo installation, 'Ebb', at the Douglas Hyde Gallery in Dublin, Ireland. This was followed, in 1991, by 'Powerhouse', at the ICA in Philadelphia, the Hyde Gallery and Camden Arts Centre in London and Kerlin Gallery in Dublin. Like 'Ebb', several of the component parts that made up 'Powerhouse' were 'found' objects - many of which had been in her family's possession for years or were located from different environments. These were then incorporated into mixed media pieces for exhibit. Cross's general approach of creating works using found objects has been referred to as "poetic amalgamation".
During the early 1990s, Cross witnessed a traditional sieve created from stretched cow's udder at a local museum in Norway and stated, "Seeing that a cow could be used for something other than producing milk was a total revelation." In response, she began producing sculptural works, utilising cured cowhide, cow udders and stuffed snakes, which explored the cultural and symbolic significance of sexuality and subjectivity across cultures. For Cross, the use of udders generated a strange mixture of disgust, hilarity, and excitement.Virgin Shroud (1993), for example, is a veil made from a cow skin, with the udders forming a crown for the concealed figure; it references both the Virgin Mary and Meret Oppenheim's fur-lined teacup that was a partial inspiration for the piece. Saddle (also 1993) incorporates an upturned udder into the seat of a horse's saddle.
Cross is perhaps best known for her public installation Ghost Ship (1998) in which a disused light ship was illuminated through use of luminous paint, in Scotman's Bay, off Dublin's Dún Laoghaire Harbour. A recent series, Medusae, includes images of Chironex fleckeri, a type of jellyfish and was made in collaboration with her brother Tom.
The Irish Museum of Modern Art held a major retrospective of her work in 2005.
An exhibition, 'View', that took place between September and November 2014 at the Kerlin Gallery in Dublin, Ireland, included a series of new sculptures and photographs. The works, which are exemplary of the artist’s complex exploration of the connection between humans and the natural world, and that play with material, relationship and time, capture the artist’s ongoing compulsion to agitate possibilities for new perspectives and points of view.
Honors and awards
In 2009, Cross was awarded an honorary doctorate by University College, Cork. During her years in the United States, she won a prestigious Pollock-Krasner Award (1990). Her work has been supported by grants from the Wellcome Trust and the Arts Councils of Great Britain and Ireland.