Interview: GEORGIA CARBONE by Abrams Claghorn Gallery
Healing Images: A Prescription For America | Feb 6 – March 4, 2018 | Artist Talk Tues. February 27, 5-7pm
Georgia Carbone is an interdisciplinary artist who investigates the topography of energetic experience through mark-making, sound, installation, and choreography. She is known for meditative oil paintings and drawings which utilize the triangle as an essential symbolic form, site-specific viola improvisations that amplify the resonant felt qualities of selected natural settings, and multi-media performances that shift the atmospheres of interior spaces. Carbone draws from science, philosophy, art history, religious studies, and personal experimentation as resources. She has performed at The Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, Krowswork Gallery in Oakland, and has taken part in exhibitions nationally and in Europe. Carbone received her BA from Hunter College in 2001 and her MFA from California College of the Arts in 2010.
Jilian Monribot: Tell us a bit about your early artistic background. Where did you grow up? Was art something that you grew up around? What kind of encouragement did you receive, and from who? When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
Portal Through Which To Receive Love, 2017.
Georgia Carbone: I was born in rural Vermont and the first years of my life were spent in fields and forests. Observing and interacting with nature taught me about interconnectedness, limitations, and heightened my sensitivity to different qualities of feeling.
As a child, art was always something magical. I remember my Dad teaching me how to draw certain things like dragons, birds, hearts and stars, using only a few simple lines and shapes. I used to draw these characters, called “heart people,” where I used the heart shape as a building block, and every part of the body was made out of hearts.
My uncle is a successful graphic designer in New York. He used to give me art books and art supplies for my birthday and holidays. When I was very young he gave me the book, “Masterpieces of American Painting.” My favorite painting in the book was Ruby Green Singing by James Chapin. It is a portrait of a young African American girl, hands clasped, eyes soft and gazing upward. Her countenance is peaceful and her lips just barely parted to let out a quiet song. She wears a simple pink dress and is bathed in a yellow glowing light. It is a very sensual painting and feels full of love and spirit.
When I was fourteen I came across a reproduction of Two Cypresses, by Vincent Van Gogh, in my world civilizations textbook. Underneath the image was an excerpt from a letter that Vincent had written to his brother describing how he felt when he looked at the trees and what the painting meant to him. When I read Vincent’s words I felt a deep sense of recognition, and I knew that my place in the world was as an artist.
photo courtesy of Georgia Carbone.
JM: Tell us a little bit about your art process and daily art practice: Where do you currently make your work and do you have a daily art practice?
GC: After many years of formal study, experimentation, research, and practice I have arrived at a place where my artistic process is fully integrated into my daily life. I carry a small notebook with me to write or draw when inspiration strikes, and I use my smartphone as a tool for recording observations and sounds. I take daily walks in nature where I am always looking, listening, and paying attention with my subtle senses.
My work is very research based and I always have at least one project going. Technically, I am drawn toward the traditional art mediums for their immediacy, and I often work through ideas using drawing and painting. When I am fortunate enough to have a studio I like to spend time experimenting and playing with lots of different media, then I pick out the strongest element and develop that more deeply which results in a body of work. At the moment I am working at home which poses interesting challenges and limitations. I have been experimenting with video, making small drawings and paintings, writing, and collecting natural materials that may be used in sculptures or installations.
JM: In your current solo exhibition “Healing Images: A Prescription For America,” you take the viewer into a healing experience. You start the viewer at the beginning of a journey with pieces that deal with self-doubt and anxiety, feelings we all relate to, and you progressively guide them through to a final conclusion of outpouring of positivity and self-affirmation. One goes through an experience, proving quite powerfully that art indeed heals. Was that your intention?
CG: The order of the viewing experience is intentional. It is meant to accomplish exactly what you have described and I am overjoyed that this is something people are experiencing.
JM: You call your work Spiritualist Art and your primary work is more concerned with “Inner Nature” and “felt reality” that is abstract to represent. How do you define Spiritualist Art and when did you discover that this was your calling?
CG: Actually, I prefer the term “New Spiritualist Art”! I began using this label to describe my work a few years ago after encountering the catalog from the 1987 exhibition at LACMA, “The Spiritual In Art, Abstract Painting 1890 – 1985”, which is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in learning more about the historical connections between spiritualism and art. Essays in the catalog connect the origins of abstract painting to the influx of eastern mysticism, spiritual philosophy, and esoteric practices on european artists such as Hilma af Klint, Mondrian, and Kandinsky around the turn of the 20th century. It was at this time, over a hundred years ago, that artists began to explore inner reality, such as feelings, visions, and dreams, as a subject for artwork. Coincidentaly, it was around this same time that science took a serious interest in the mechanics of inner experience and established experimental psychology as a scientific discipline.
I have always been attuned to the spiritual dimension of being, I think this comes from spending so much time in nature as a child.
“The Practice Manifesto”, 2007, Photo Credit: Georgia Carbone.
JM: We love your 2017 Practice Manifesto – the culmination after learning to write the alphabet with your left hand each day for a year – what did you learn that stays with you today? And how does that affect your art practice today?
GC: Left Handed Writing Practice was such a fun project! And not at all as easy as it seems. One thing that I found really interesting was the ways in which it was difficult, because surely the task itself was not difficult. It was humbling to see the shaky, irregular letters that my unpracticed hand would write. Occasionally I would make mistakes like writing a letter twice, or leaving one out. The mistakes made me aware that I was not completely in control and they became my favorite part of the project. I came to value (harmless) mistakes and mishaps as gifts, experiences that you can’t plan for or create intentionally. I also learned a lot about discipline, attention, and ability to follow through which has aided me tremendously in my art practice.
JM: What advice do you have for young women artists trying to make it in the art world?
GC: ALWAYS value your feelings. And read Dune.
Thank you Georgia for your time and captivating thoughts. We look forward to hearing more at your Artist Talk on Tuesday, February 27, 5-7 pm.
Come view Georgia Carbone’s solo show, Healing Images: Prescription For America on view February 6 – March 4, 2018. More information about the event and more is linked here. Thank you!