Demetri Fisher ’73, ’18, Wonsook Kim School of Art alum and Normal Editions team member, passed away November 10, 2019. He was a wise and imaginative soul and is dearly missed by his faculty and friends.
Fisher grew up in Chicago and studied art at Illinois State University, where he was a recipient of the Robert G. Bone Scholarship in 1972–1973. After graduating, he moved to Madison, Wisconsin, to pursue his master’s degree.
Family obligations required Fisher to work full time, and he found employment as a surveyor at the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT). Thirty-nine years passed, and he held varied roles at WisDOT, including engineering aid, equal opportunity officer, and administrator in the Office of Affirmative Action. His curiosity and interest in the arts continued and, after he retired from WisDOT, he returned to Illinois State University to earn a second B.A. in art in 2017.
While a student, he studied printmaking with Associate Professor Morgan Price and worked under the tutelage of Normal Editions Director Veda Rives Aukerman, assisting in artist collaborations and editioning lithographic prints. He also showed his peers what an adventurer looks like. Fisher was a joy to be with, seeing the world through a unique and limitless lens. Before passing, he purchased the rights to an arts publication called The Art Amateur with the goal of turning it into an art magazine for the common person.
Fisher devoted his life not only to learning and creating art, but also to civil rights. His fascination with black history—specifically the Black Panther Party, Malcom X, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964—fed his healthy sense of compassion and made him a role model to his family, co-workers, and fellow students.
“I have joyed with the small victories, cried with the failures and sometimes sat alone in the dark wondering what to do next,” he wrote. “I know probably as no man really should what a difficult road working in this barren field can be. I’m an old warhorse now and I don’t really feel there is room for people like us anymore. Room must always be made for the next generation to follow. … I always like to remember that no matter what we do, it’s not about the big shots and the little people. … It’s not about the have-everythings and the have-nothings. It’s about us all coming together to find the common ground.”
In January 2020, family and friends came together to celebrate Fisher’s life, with an exhibition titled What Now? Demetri’s work and words can be found at demetrifisher.com.