Caitlin Carcerano was invited to create an original installation on the Harwood Art Center campus. She was in our SURFACE: Emerging Artists of NM annual juried exhibition in 2018, rents a studio at Harwood and is preparing for a group show to debut at Harwood in 2022. We were so excited and horored to invited her to create a mural for our annual ENCOMPASS event this spring.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
CC: Vintage bathrooms, old commercial and fashion illustration, graphic novels, and my own lived experiences.
What is a typical day in the studio look like for you?
CC: In the midst of the pandemic and working full time, I still try to carve out eight or nine hours per week of studio time. The bulk of this time is spent painting, but I’m working on slowing myself down and taking time to ponder and observe in the midst of working. I also spend time researching by looking at art books and magazines, sketching ideas for new pieces, and prepping canvases.
What is your process when starting a new project or piece?
CC: I have folders on my phone full of photos of interesting vintage bathrooms and women lying supine. I think this is where my process begins; even though all of my bathtub paintings are imagined environments and situations, there is some basis in reality. Most of my paintings begin as pencil sketches, which then become little studies in full color either digitally in ProCreate or traditionally with colored pencil and marker. Having a firm idea of what I want to achieve with each piece grounds me as I begin to actually paint.
Where is your studio? Why did you choose that location?
CC: My studio is at the Harwood Art Center, which was my dream space for many years. I love the history of the building, as well as the wonderful Harwood community. The big south-facing windows in my studio provide beautiful natural light all day long, and in the short time I’ve been in my studio (less than a year!) I’ve worked hard to make it a cozy, creative space.
What are you currently interested in?
CC: I’m currently super interested in old neon signs! Similar to vintage bathrooms, I’m fascinated with things that seem out of time in 2021 and the sense of melancholy they carry.
Do you have another job in addition to making art? How does it inform your art practice?
CC: My day job is in the administrative office of a regional business based in Albuquerque. There are not many opportunities for creativity at work, so my work life is pretty separate from my art practice.
Was there a moment or a decision you made in your career that you feel was a personal success?
CC: Recently being published in Southwest Contemporary’s Bodies//Boundaries issue felt like a huge success. It’s very exciting to have my work shown in a regional platform. I also spent three years in college working on the staff of literary magazines, and it’s nice to be on the other side of the publishing process for a change.
What memorable response(s) have you had to your work?
CC: At a show I put on in 2019 with a friend, a visitor at the opening came up to me and said they appreciated how real the bodies I paint are. Nudity and the softness of the human body are crucial to my paintings, because I aim to show that women and their bodies are not singularly sexual. I’m happy that seeing the squishy tummies I paint resonated with that person in that way.
What are you trying to communicate with your art?
CC: My bathtub paintings started as an exercise in vulnerability, which was something I struggled with during my early twenties. I felt like if I could let people in on private, semi-autobiographical moments through my art, it would be easier to get vulnerable in my personal relationships. I also enjoy the tension that comes with making private moments public.
What is your dream project? If there were no restrictions on time or money, what would you create?
CC: I’ve been drawn to Francis Alys’s Fabiola Project for years now. Similarly, if I had the time and space, I would love to have a show of tons of identical bathtub paintings. Rather than collecting the work of other artists and showing it as Alys did, I would paint everything on my own.
Which creative medium would you love to pursue but haven’t yet?
CC: Painting will always be my first love, but I’m trying to broaden my horizons and develop a digital art practice as well. The Apple Pencil is a nifty little tool, and although the tactility of painting will always be my favorite way to create, the on-the-go convenience and cleanliness of digital art is appealing to me, too.
Is there an artwork of yours that you will always keep?
CC: I’ll never sell the last painting I did in college, called “The Space Between Us.” It was a huge breakthrough moment in terms of integrating my interest in comics and graphic novels into my painting practice and embracing my natural tendency to want to make art in that style without forcing realism. It’s such a meaningful piece to me, and it is currently hanging in my living room next to a real-life monstera plant.
What excites and / or delights you in your art practice right now?
CC: This autumn marks my seventh year of seriously painting. I’ve been painting long enough now that I can see a continuous improvement in my work from year to year, which is amazing. I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve really honed my painting language and visual vocabulary, and I’m excited to keep learning and growing with every new painting I make.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
CC: I believe that art is for everyone and that everyone can be an artist.
How can people learn more, support, and or purchase your work?
CC: Instagram is the best platform to follow my work on. I try to update a few times a week with photos of what I’m working on and what opportunities are coming my way. Anyone interested in buying my work can send me a direct message on Instagram @caitlin_faith or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Caitlin Carcerano:
Caitlin Carcerano (she/her) is a figurative, illustrative oil painter. Born and raised in El Paso, Texas, she graduated from the University of New Mexico summa cum laude in 2017 with a BFA in Art Studio, Painting and Drawing. Caitlin continues to live and work in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she maintains a studio at the Harwood Art Center. Her work has been shown at 516 Arts, the Harwood Art Center, and AC2 Gallery in Albuquerque, and internationally at Art Dubai 2019.
Caitlin Carcerano, studio
Caitlin Carcerano, The Ties that Bind, concept sketch
Caitlin Carcerano, studio
Caitlin Carcerano, The Ties that Bind, acrylic paint, 2021