Texas based artist and fine art photographer Cara Barer graciously took time to answer questions about her wildly intriguing repurposed book sculptures. The future of our literary world and the fluctuation of how we receive and discard information is never more fully realized than when it stares back at us. Barer’s gorgeous, intricate works of art demand we examine the future of books and how we treat and preserve the connection between the physical and technological worlds.
Barer channels familiar iconography in her still life photographs – dyed book pages from obsolete, discarded novels are ruffled and carefully arranged in circular forms, much like spiritual mandalas or blooming flowers. Transformed by color and arrangement, these books are equipped to take on new meanings as sculptural objects that are photographed and printed at a large scale – blurring the lines between object, sculpture, and photography.
Barer’s work can be seen as part of the Coast to Color exhibit showing at The Laura Korman Gallery. The Coast to Color exhibit highlights the infinite vocabulary of color through a range of media; serving as a psychological and communicative tool in engaging with the viewer and their response. The exhibition is on view from January 7 through March 5, 2016 at the Laura Korman Gallery in Santa Monica, California. More info HERE
For more information on Cara Barer, her sculptures and current exhibits, please visit her website. Be sure and check out the slideshow to see more of Barer’s work.
Francis Xavier: When and how did your journey as an artist begin and what led you in the direction of books as your medium?
Cara Barer: I have painted, and drawn my whole life. When I was a teenager I started to photograph and always had a wet dark room up until about 10 years ago. I happened to find a wet and weathered phone book outside my studio one day about 12 years ago. I photographed it. I liked the photos. I went back the next day to get the book off the sidewalk but it was gone. That is when I started thinking that I could create what I photograph, rather than wait to find it. I now work with books, newspapers, magazines, maps and any other kind of paper that I find interesting.
FX: How did you approach the ‘Coast to Color’ exhibition and what challenges did the project present?
CB: Every year I produce about 12-14 new images. I did not create these images specifically for the Coast to Color exhibition. Laura discovered my work and had the vision that it would work with her idea for the show.
FX: Did any of the pieces in the ‘Coast to Color’ exhibition evolve into something different than what you initially intended?
CB: Most of my images evolve and usually don’t turn out the way I originally planned.
FX: Which piece from the ‘Coast to Color’ exhibit challenged you the most?
CB: I can’t say that one was more challenging than another. Some take longer, and I guess that would mean it was more challenging, but I don’t think about it like that. Sometimes I look at it as a form of wrestling and I want to win!
FX: How did the Texas landscape influence your ‘Coast to Color’ work?
CB: I do believe that the environment influences my image making. Part of my process involves leaving Texas and traveling. I also spend a lot of time in Santa Fe, NM.
FX: Can you describe your creative process? Do you find a book and see it transformed, or does the idea of a sculpture propel you to find a particular type of book?
CB: Both. I can start with a plan, or work intuitively. It depends on my mood.
FX: When do you know a piece is done, and do you ever wish you could change something once its “finished?” How do you let a piece go?
CB: It’s hard to stop and say something is finished. I could “tinker” with something for a long time if I never had a deadline, so usually I have to let it go because I need to finish a body of work for a show.
FX: What did you learn about yourself as an artist while working on the ‘Coast to Color’ exhibit?
CB: I don’t feel that I had any kind of epiphany after finishing the work this time. I do want to continue to work with maps and I could mine out text for the rest of my life.
FX: What type of art/art movement inspires you?
CB: Dada. Mainly photomontage.
FX: Do you ever suffer from a creative block? If so, do you find stepping away from what you are working on helps? Or do you just plow through it?
CB: Yes, but not frequently. I just keep going even though I may not like how things are turning out. The work comes from the work. Stopping does not help.
FX: Your sculptures are very detailed and intricate; are you as detail oriented in life as your art depicts?
CB: I guess you could say I’m detailed oriented as long as that does not mean organized! In the end I like for my images to be perfect. My environment that I work in looks like total chaos!
FX: Where can readers find your work online?
CB: My website