Carolyn Cárdenas

Crime and Punishment


A group of representational egg tempera pieces and several drawings constitute a body of work begun ten years ago, and still in progress. The Crime and Punishment series, which details domestic stress and hidden potential violence in American neighborhoods, are housed in three-dimensional frames. Views into tiny painted windows that are set in suburban model homes reveal secret interactions of familial conflicts and their consequences, through the use of fifteenth century Flemish Renaissance techniques.

Most of the pieces, wooden in nature with miniature hardware, collage and lighting elements represent the contained and confined nature of a limited environmental setting. Unlike past documentation of (as a resident) the lush landscape of California or skyscrapers of New York with the overwhelming presence of gangs, violence and mass media, the Neighborhood Exhibition listens to more quiet subtle interactions of teachers, parents, "tweens" populating basements, bedrooms and lawns. In contrast to the metropolitan "West of Eden" (dating from 1990 and designed not to be completed until the artist's death), these new works focus on the individual's spirit oppressed by banality, isolationism and canned popular culture, whether a rejected teenager, estranged father or absent mother, all in a prisoner's world, from Thoreau to Ted Bundy. Multiple structures familiar to the altarpiece and icons of the 15th century will support the tiny scenes while decorative gilding, gold leaf and illuminations will bear current cultural symbols that are witness to a middle -western, -age, -class, -of -the -road lifestyle pressing in on the psyche (i.e., televisions, computers, exercise cycles, time clocks and lawnmowers) The pieces in this series are meant to be testaments to current maladies teeming in these disconnected communities, evidenced by the misuse of drugs, chat rooms, guns and materialism.