Frances Domingues studied psychology in college, started painting in her down time, and developed a passion for black-and-white photography. But after graduation and the loss of a dark room, she put her degree to work in the mental-health field before embracing her artistic bent with FD Found Design, creating furnishings and interior-design objects from found materials.
Nearly two decades later, standing in her light-filled studio in the Wedge, her profile is reflected in a mirror she made from an old foundry mold. “I was always looking at things to see what other life they could be,” she says.
Looking inward brought her to her truest self as an artist. “I met someone a few years ago who introduced me to meditation. His artistry lays with energy, with clearing blocks to allow energy, and as we cleared those blocks of mine and I practiced meditation, I became more and more clear of who I am.”
Domingues uses industrial metal shelving from the 1930s as her medium, exploring the natural properties of the material. “When I found this 10-some years ago, I knew immediately it was a canvas for me. I started painting on it, and it became part of my design with furniture and lighting. When I found some rusty pieces, they were more fun to work with; it is undeniable that metal wants to rust. I started using rust as a medium and it allows for so much expansive thought and energy … like co-creating with the universe.”
She points to a three-panel piece revealing itself layer by peeling layer. “This particular piece is still evolving; it’s an active process. My business card says ‘High Vibrational Art.’ Everything has energy, and metal is a conductor of energy. It vibrates at a higher frequency. I had all of these physical processes to create my work, but I had to get energy alignment to allow that energy to flow through me. I’m following my intuition, so the process of meditation allows me to get an inspired thought and follow it. The piece itself becomes meditation.”
“Prometheus” — created last summer for Mark Bettis’ popular group show Inspiration, an homage to Peggy Guggenheim’s collection of modernist masterpieces — became Domingues’ first outdoor sculpture. “I had a very big and very heavy panel that could not lie flat on a wall, so I was painting both sides, turning it and turning it, then had a metal frame built to suspend it,” she explains. “In my vision as I worked, I was seeing it spin — but it was too complicated to get [that part of] it done in time for the show.”
Nevertheless, the piece sold the first night. “The buyer had two questions: ‘Can it be installed outside?’ and ‘Can we make it spin?’ We had a new stand made for it, and everything came together. It was meant to be.”
Frances Domingues, FD Found Design Studio & Gallery, Wedge Studios, 129 South Roberts St., second floor, in the River Arts District, Asheville. Domingues is on site most days, 11am-5pm, and also available by appointment: 828-380-0817. Her show Getting into the Vortex runs at Eclipse Salon (16 Wall St.) through the end of March. Domingues will donate a piece to this month’s Art Affair fundraiser for OpenDoors Asheville (opendoorsasheville.org). For more information, see fdfounddesign.wordpress.com, and check out FD Found Design Studio & Gallery on Facebook and Instagram.