Carolyn Cárdenas

Works on Paper


Drawing occupies a crucial role over many years of working in a variety of media. It has the same care, polish and development that are found in the paintings: meticulous detail, attention to formal composition and with an eye to surface, whether in charcoal and graphite or in pastel and collage.

The artist employs pastel painting both as a preliminary color study and as a finished product in itself. She has found the immediacy of this material invaluable for searching out the final concepts worthy of the lengthy tempera process. As a direct application of drawing color, pastel allows the expression of an allegiance to minute detail for certain ideas; as in Ed Ruscha's gunpowder and pastel drawings, it can marry drawing to painting as beautifully as the egg tempera. On the other hand the use of pastel as a part of the collage process gives a sense of Degas' fluid exploration of the material. The brilliance, spontaneity and searching quality become a necessary tool for defining ideas, which, for example, involve movement or time. When depicting dancing skeletons or a parade of animals, there was a need to produce a separate reality, a more active surface than those used in the frozen still-life temperas. Exploration of collage and mixed-media have extended the range of both craft and idea.

Carolyn's goal then in utilizing a variety of media (with special consideration of an historical one) is to manipulate the best possible materials appropriate to each individual concept. Her purpose is to communicate the inherent power of visual art through both socially potent content and fine craftsmanship, to see ordinary life through a microscope and, as in that experience, reexamine its visage through the aid of minutiae, to see magic where we thought none existed.