RAIR | 2011-12
Rodney Carswell | Santa Fe, NM
Rodney Carswell is currently engaged in making works on paper, frequently in black and white, employing an abstract cast of images and forms in search of animated, suggestive, but indeterminate narratives. He received his BFA from the University of New Mexico and MFA from the University of Colorado. He taught at the School of Art and Design at the University of Illinois at Chicago for about 25 years. He has exhibited at museums and galleries throughout the United States and has received several fellowship grants. His work can be found in public and private collections throughout the United States.
The work I have produced while in Roswell extends my ongoing effort to find a simpler, more direct and enjoyable way to operate in the studio. I arrived here a virtual blank sheet, having spent the past couple of years trying to extricate myself from what was for me, a rather complicated life in Chicago. I have however, since the mid 1970s, kept a notebook for tracking and logging my studio related musings. It is from this that I began, first producing lots of small drawings, which were quickly followed by equally small paintings. The drawings came readily and were simple to execute. The paintings, rarely based on one of the drawings, were procedurally more organic, one thing leading to another, the blind following the blind. These small works rarely ended up where they began and usually involved multiple removals or over painting of images that had first been. As I worked, I held onto a simple goal of trying to make something different each day; and, I hoped to arrive at something that made me cant my head to the side in a kind of "huh?" moment. At about the six month mark, I decided to see if I could make larger work, not because I thought that was needed, but simply as an exercise. I was in fact skeptical about the prospects for these small ramblings gone large. But, the adventure beckoned and to my surprise, the first of these came quickly; after that and in general however, this effort has been challenging and awkward. More often than not, these works have procedurally, been what is described in the art world as "over determined"; perhaps trying too hard to live up to the inherent importance of the added square footage. With the exhaustion of each over worked attempt however, I reminded myself that, it is only a painting”and found renewal in scraping and/or sanding the offending complexity away before trying to stake a simpler claim. For now at least, this seems to be getting easier. The last large work in this show came quickly and seems to grasp the sense of play more frequently found in the drawings and small paintings. The work space at the residency, the ongoing quiet complemented by the openness of the community here, have been nurturing. This has been a wonderful place to be. I am thankful.