CREATIVE SPOTLIGHT - Caroline mcauliffe

Posted by Photographer on May 12, 2018 3:17:52 PM

1) Where were you raised? Can you paint a picture of your childhood? I was raised in a turn-of-the century picturesque town called Radburn- a town within a town in New Jersey. The same town where my mother was raised. My sister and I were raised in my mother’s childhood dream house. my parents raised my sister and I in the house my mother dreamed of having as a child. Radburn was a space drunk on nostalgia and 1950s postwar family values. I had the freedom of space just outside my door. Many evenings, we played, unattended, until the park lights came on. On weekends, my family would spend time at my parents’ first home, a cabin in Vernon, NJ. In the summer, we would swim in the lake, tool around in my parents’ red VW bus. We would ski on the local hill in the winter months. My childhood experiences in Vernon and Radburn were contrary to the industrial parkway that many imagine to encompass New Jersey. I was beyond fortunate to have access to space and in my childhood. Much of my time was spent playing outside in green spaces and making things with my hands with simple materials. I relished the freedom that I was given a small human. It definitely steered the course of my art and my way of life.

2)Did you always create art as a kid, or did you come to it later in life? I am one of those people that was always a maker and a perpetual entrepreneur of my makings. In adulthood, I achieved the roles that I had dreamed of having as a young child (artist, teacher, chef, and dancer). Fortunately, my mother was very serious about creating space for making. She gave me an art table in the basement of our house, where I would spend hours. I was a simple kid that could be entertained with paper and a pen. I always had materials and space. Simple, yet profound in its effect on my life

3) which artists have influenced your work? Why and how? Helen Frankenthaler, Elizabeth Murray, Georgia O'keeffe, Frida Kahlo, Lee Bontecou, Eva Hesse, Louise Bourgeois, and Louise Nevelson have always been my queens. For their color usage, materiality, stories, intrinsic styles, and unapologetic nature, these artists have always felt powerful and influential. Louisa Matthiasdottir and Gabrielle Munter have greatly influenced my color palette. I loved looking at Darina Karpov’s and Julie Mehretu's works for their composition and intricacies. Ruth Asawa, Yayoi Kusama, Sheila Hicks, and Faith Ringgold rock my world for fiber and sculpture work.

4) any other influences (people, places, ideas)? Everywhere and anywhere, I draw influence from the color, design, and light quality around me. A concrete wall and a hand painted sign could stop me dead in my tracks. Dollar stores and hardware stores, though rarely seen as influential in a maker’s work, have influenced my style and compositions greatly. The handwork I see in basket weavers, fashion, hand stitching, dye work has always left imprints in my mind.

5) tell me about your practice—how do you generate ideas, what medium do you use? I generate ideas from images, places, colors, and textures. I am a paper and fiber artist. For the most part, I generate my material from found-items, such as rope, cord, palm, and other miscellaneous salvages on the street. Living amongst two major cities, Jersey City (my home) and New York City, continues to inspire me. Seeing art, fashion, and everyday life on the streets keeps my mind racing. I love seeing the debris and the textures, such as a torn tarp flapping in the wind next to a highly-stylized austere aesthetic in some shop window. The colors and textures of the city are striking. I find most of my material on the streets or in everyday-hardware stores. Travel is huge. Each time I travel, I collect images, colors, palms if available, and rope wherever I find it. In the modern world of technology and instant world connection, Instagram is a giant influencer for me. It allows me to see art, handiwork, and fashion all in one place. I can see snippets of history and present-day from one post to the next. It is a place that drives my mind and work. Similar to walking the streets of New York, with its assortment of strangers and places, Instagram allows me to be influenced daily and in small pockets of time. I take all of that, and sketch, write, consider, and then play. I spend a lot of time making work and unmaking. I try things out and try things on. I get the feel for something- and run with it. I am a fast worker fortunately, because I do not always have a ton of time to make work. I do have a lot of time to consider work and materials though, and this constraint has become such an important part of the process. Considering why, what, how, and with what materials. It all buildings up in me; I let loose in the studio.

6) is your art more concept-driven or image-driven? I would say I operate somewhere in between the two. Especially now, with the addition of photographic storytelling, it largely depends on the moment or piece. Foremost, I am an artist concerned with the material presence of the work. As a paper and fiber artist, I like making art that makes the audience want to touch it or wear. It has a physical presence. I have been working with a similar archetype for years. There is an exchange- one of dualities of dominance and submission, of fragility and power., Yet, the exchange also weighs on the concept of intimacy. Power from a woman. Power from the unknown as a headpiece that masks the face. Power from a whip, from ways of its movement. It is work that lives in its contradictions; nonetheless, itis also comfortable in a state of play.

7) why do you make the art you make? Because I am compelled to create. I want to assert the same dualities that I find in myself, in the work that I make. I want to dress up in costume and be something else, a different version of myself. I want to be hidden and completely present. I want to be vulnerable and protected. I want to be a jester with authority.

8) does your art influence your life, and vice versa? I would say that the exchange is fluid. They influence each other. Sometimes, my art tells others things before I can tell them to myself. It is all in the work.

9) what do you think about the notion "the lonely artist"? I believe you are only lonely if you do not invite others into your world/space. I am a social entity. I work and live best amongst others. Living out loud is important for my brain and my making. Conversely, I live alone and make art in solitude mainly. For that reason, I tend to want my work to be used, to be worn, and in that way I am asking the work be social. It does not need others, but I believe it lives a better existence with others. The same can be said for myself.

10) does your art connect you to the world in some way, or does it help you navigate the world? My art can be a social integrator for me. It can give me the authority to throw myself out there. Being an artist connects me to the world. Being an artist also gives you a place in life: a community of makers and people equally compelled to create and play. It definitely is part of my identity, and therefore, art helps me navigate the world. It is how I see the world, as an artist, a teacher of art, and as a maker of things.

11) do you make art for yourself or other people? I definitely make art for myself first and others second. Of course, the art does not exist in a void. My art is for others to see. I want it to live with others and in their minds. I want people to question it, touch it, and try it on. I want people to want to engage with it. Maybe, they are intrigued. Maybe, they are laughing at me dancing like a fool while in costume.

12) what purpose do you think art serves today? Art serves as a vehicle for thought and emotion. Art can show us new perspectives and reflect ourselves. At its best, art calls people to it ,shows them something new, and has a conversation with its viewers.

Screen Shot 2018-05-12 at 3.15.45 PM