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Interview with Caroline Absher

We recently spoke with Caroline Absher, the New York-based painter, about her background and how it had impacted her creatively, where she sources inspiration and how the pandemic affected her work. Known for her vivid, evocative, colorful paintings, we loved learning about the process behind her powerful work.

Caroline, you come from a fairly conservative & religious town in South Carolina. Could you tell us a little bit how relocating to New York City at 18 had impacted you creatively?

Naturally, growing up in a small town, you always dream of moving to the big city, and I had romanticized that for a long time. Once I arrived, it was very difficult to adjust. You soon realize that your creative pursuits are little specks of sand in a sandstorm (what was that phrase?!) and you’ve got to really want it. In my mind, wanting it meant making enough cash to remain in New York. I’ve had every job under the sun in order to stay here. I think overall moving to New York showed me how much I want to and love to paint. Last year, I finally signed a lease on my own studio space in South Williamsburg. It’s slowly coming together.

Your paintings are figurative, vibrant, evocative. What are some feelings or stories that you wish to convey through your work?

I always think that the figures in my paintings give off a peaceful, protective, loving feeling, like they know you already and may be a bit telepathic, but in a Good Witch kind of way.

 

 

Could you talk us through your creative process?

I love painting large scale (as tall as me so there’s lots of movement required), usually starting with a loose abstraction that I don’t think about too much, on the floor or wall. There is no color restriction or composition in mind. I have several ideas of scenes to paint, and they’re swimming around in my brain. When the abstraction is “complete”, I step back, and can always find some figures lurking in the shapes, the figures that I had been thinking about. They emerge from the subconscious, in a way. The painting chooses itself.

How has the lockdown and other events in the past year affected your work?

The lockdown made me entirely rethink my life, quit my day job, and go full time paint mode!

Where do you find most inspiration?

I find inspiration in small things. People watching on a bench. I am a huge romantic. It’s the little things, witnessing moments of tenderness between friends and strangers, that give me that feeling about life that would make anyone with or with or the ability want to paint, sing, or dance.

 

 

Who are some of your favorite fellow artists?

I have so many favorites! So much amazing work is happening right now! Naudline Cluvie Pierre, Lisa Yuskavage, Dana Schutz, Jenna Gribbon, Doron Langberg, Jennifer Packer, Ana Benaroya, Elizabeth Glaessner, Eamon Monaghan, Carlo D’Anselmi, Haley Josephs, Kate Klingbiel, Emma Webster, Sasha Gordon, Alina Perez, Rachel Rossin.

What are some things that you are looking forward to next year?

Nothing is set in stone yet, but professionally I may be accompanying some new work to Mexico City, Finland, and Rome in the next several months. Being able to travel with them would be incredible, so I’m really hoping it works out!


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