Artist Carol Taylor-Kearney, who previously created artworks from found windows and doors, mines messages in found objects. For her upcoming exhibition of American Prayer Flags at Cerulean Arts in Philadelphia from June 16 to July 14, 2018, she will display works with worn American flags, canvases with mixed media and wooden frames holding multiple glass panes with decals, stickers and colored glass. Most of the materials she uses are leftovers from other projects, gifts from friends and scraps she has collected.
All the art works, including portraits of children in subtle actions as well as hybrids of the American flag and Tibetan prayer flags, were completed during the last 2 years. Actual American flags, flag motifs of stars and stripes, and the colors of blue, white, red, green and yellow from Tibetan prayer flags are merged in various ways to create the designs in the art works presented.
“For some, I emphasize abstracted patterns found in the arrangements on the flags. In others, I emphasize conceptual content. For still others, I have include recognizable portraits of children,” she says.
“Children are important because we all share the experience of childhood and because they signify the future. Their actions in the paintings are the type of interactions a child has with a particular element of nature associated with a prayer flag color.”
Artist Carol Taylor-Kearney Reveals Inspiration, Challenges and Choices in Work
Here is a Q&A with artist Carol Taylor-Kearney who enlivens her work with vibrant colors and tangible emotions:
What was the inspiration for your current work? In making “American Prayer Flags” using the American flag, Tibetan Prayer flags and children as inspiration and motif has allowed me to think about the foundations of this country, the aspirations that we share, and, most importantly, let me go beyond the prejudices I might have with the opinions of the “other side.” Images can set forth complex ideas that lead to discussion rather than jargon that can all too easily be dismissed.
What challenges have you faced as an artist, and what steps have you taken to overcome any obstacles? I was not exposed to actual artwork until I was in high school. Most of the art I knew came to me through books and magazines. Strangely, I was a curious and inventive child and would collect materials from around me and create what I called “stuff” for my own amusement and appreciation. I was lucky that I was always encouraged to do this because it led me to think of materials to make art in a different way than traditional training in drawing and painting. This gave me confidence to play with components from nature and from the kitchen, to experiment with alternative methods of construction, and to blend what I wanted to say with what I had at hand. That way, when I had a chance in college to be trained as an artist I already had developed a personal drawing style and was able to make analogies that were my own. For example, when requested to create a line drawing, I took out some electrical tape and used it make the lines that others were making with pencil, charcoal or ink.
Did you make a conscious choice to focus on family and relationships in many of your paintings and, if so, why? All Art is relational because it is derived from our personal experiences, is processed by our minds, and engendered in our bodies…. Artists paint relationships as they encounter them. We come to know and understand through a technique known as conceptual blending—by combining words, images, and ideas we flush out new meanings. These new interpretations can be shared with others through our art form. As you can tell, it is a very personal process, and for my own process, I choose to focus on my daily encounters with people, places and things. Sometimes, I will present them as a picture, at other times in words and still other times as the objects themselves. What the viewer gets out of them is part of their own conceptual blend.
What shapes your whimsical pieces, which often have the quality of illustrations in children’s books? I am fortunate to have been born into a family that prized books and education, to have parents who taught my siblings and me–irrespective of whether we were boy or girl–how to use tools, how to cook and clean, how to care for ourselves and others. I am as comfortable in burning and scraping paint off a door as preparing and painting a canvas; in making flowers out of gum drops for a cake as making flowers out of glazing compound; in changing a wax seal on a toilet as gluing together an assemblage. And as stated earlier, I have taken ample opportunity to play with materials, and playing, a skill associated with childhood, is key to making and experimenting with new concepts and analogies. Plus inanimate objects, as in a cartoon, can be animated by my imagination.
Isn’t that what whimsy is about? A collected or recollected experience that speaks to a metaphor that we all share. It is life and life-affirming.
Why are you interested in using found objects in your work and can you describe the process? Everything that exists in the world has had a beginning and will eventually have an end. In between these two points there are changes—in its form, in its definition, in its use. So basically, everything has a story and through examining it we can conjure this or that story and even–through conceptual blending–find another attachment for it.
An opening for the exhibit by Carol Taylor-Kearney at Cerulean Arts at 1355 Ridge Avenue in Philadelphia is scheduled for June 16 from 2 to 6 p.m. Cerulean Arts’ gallery hours are Wednesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.