Artist of the Week: Carolyn Salas

Carolyn Salas was born in Hollywood, California. Ms. Salas earned a BFA in sculpture from College of Santa Fe in 1999 and an MFA from CUNY Hunter College in 2005. She has exhibited at museums including The Torrance Art Museum, Torrance, CA; Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, Peekskill, NY, The Berkshire Museum, Pittsfield, MA, Urbis City Center, Manchester, UK, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA. Notable gallery exhibitions include Kate Werble Gallery, New York, NY; Casey Kaplan, New York, NY; Koenig & Clinton Gallery, NY; Gallery Nordine Zidoun, Luxembourg; Artopia Gallery, Milan, Italy and Parisian Laundry, Montreal. She has participated in artist residency programs at Abrons Art Center, AIR space program, NY, NARS Foundation, NY, Fountainhead, FL, among others. In 2013 Ms. Salas completed a solo show at Dodge Gallery and a site specific installation for Francis Greenberger’s Time Equities, Art-in-Buildings in New York. She was appointed lecturer in sculpture at Yale University in 2011.

If you had to explain your work to a stranger, what would you say? I make work that oscillates between abstraction and figuration, between site-specific works and sculpture. I use a wide array of materials including, found objects, collage, craft oriented assemblages, fabric and recycled items. I am interested in the “in-between” stages; the tension that lies both within the physical space and the psychological space.

What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? I currently have a solo show up at Koenig and Clinton Gallery in New York and I’m in group shows at Paramo Gallery in Guadalajara, Mexico and Ever Gold Gallery in San Francisco, CA. In a few weeks I’m going to the Wassaic Project in upstate New York to make some prints.

Photo credit: Jeffery Sturges
Curiosity Koenig & Clinton Gallery

What materials do you use in your work and what is your process like? Currently in the studio I’m doing a lot of mold making. I make casts from stryofoam in aqua resin, hydrocal or cement and then assemble them together. The inconstancy is something I like to see, the evidence that it was touched and not slickly manufactured. My work is very physical; it demands use of my body, pushing and pulling, the material. I develop a relationship with the material and it becomes about the struggle to figure out how it will work. With each project a new obstacle arises that has to be figured out. I build up a system that then gets broken down. It seems to be an endless cycle; that closeness is what draws me in. The sketch or drawing of the objects is one aspect, while their physicality and size is another. I tend to focus more on the motion or direction, guiding me to a place of memory where touching and feeling is how I am seeing.  Lately I have been working with a certain scale that corresponds to human height. In this way I imagine the relationship to the body, how we maneuver through space and our relationship to objects in space. The forms then develop a conversation or particular language with one another and the architecture by referencing particular bits of structural framework or in using the walls as support. This builds a connection between what’s familiar and seemingly unfamiliar. I started incorporating graphite powder into the works. This emphasis on line or gesture becomes heightened by its materiality. In my current show at Koenig and Clinton, I kept the works black and white in color, allowing the forms’ minimalist structures to be accentuated in order to find a balance between the two. The graphite powder applied to the shapes gives the object weight, while the white cast pieces almost disappear into the background, playing to the idea of sculptural drawing in space.

Photo credit: Jeffery Sturges
Curiosity Koenig & Clinton Gallery

What artists are you interested in right now? Adam Parker Smith is an artist I’m continuously interested in. Letha Wilson has a solo show up at Grimm Gallery right now which is amazing. Brancusi is an old favorite and I can’t wait to see the Eva Hesse film documentary. Hans Breder’s black and white photos of body reflections keep coming back to me in the studio; I love the manipulation and contortion of the reflections. Other artists I’m interested in: Maureen Cavanaugh, Brie Ruais and all the ladies from the Artbook Club.

Photo credit: Jeffery Sturges
Curiosity Koenig & Clinton Gallery

What was the last exhibition you saw that stuck out to you? I really loved the Lucy Kim exhibition at Lisa Cooley, her use of body parts in paintings is great, Neo Rauch technicolor paintings at Zwirner and Erin Sheriff at Sikkema Jenkins.

What is your snack/beverage of choice when working in your studio? I’m a sucker for a Peter Pan donut, hands down the best in Brooklyn.

Photo credit: Jeffery Sturges
Curiosity Koenig & Clinton Gallery

What do you do when you’re not working on art? Run after my two year old son! And I’ve been doing the 9-1 training for next year’s New York Marathon; it will be my second. It’s something I’ve always admired from a distance and find whenever I’ve seen the race I’m really inspired. I like the idea of mentally and physically challenging myself; I think this process relates back to being an artist in an abstract way; dedication, endurance, the slow burn and knowing that winning doesn’t always mean coming in first.

If you hadn’t become an artist what do you think you’d be doing? Well I always told my mom when I was younger that it was a toss-up between being a child psychologist or a solid gold dancer.

What are you listening to right now? Nothing, it’s really quiet.

Photo credit: Jeffery Sturges
Curiosity Koenig & Clinton Gallery