Carla Lobmier



My work is the evidence of my own drifting mind as well as physical travel. What do I see? What does what I see make me think about? The thing that I started looking for was visual surprise, because there was little visual surprise to find when I went around looking for it. I hunt for joy.

The notion of surprise as part of visual pleasure stuck. In contrast, a resting of the mind to invite contemplation seemed part of the painting equation. Rhythm and pacing akin to music. The importance of silence to enhance sound.

When I first came to New York after moving from a small town in Illinois, I was at a professional dinner party and found myself in conversation with a very confident and successful stranger. She remarked, “Metaphor is dead.” I laughed and said, “I make paintings, and they are all about metaphor.”

What is my equation? Unexpected images, which invite introspection. Paintings made with painterly surfaces and mark making including a focus on color. The painting should prompt questions about ideas. Titles are clues. My work is elliptical: drawing versus painting, imagery and abstraction, visual layering, the familiar and the mysterious, language and meaning, inside and outside, stillness and motion, internal and external. The painterly, layered surfaces of the acrylic paintings share the same co-existing multiple points of view as the watercolor work. The acrylic paintings start from an internal place and become external in the making. The watercolors begin with external observations (often, a place) and take form through an internal processing of what is seen.

What about grace? Reading poetry as well as hearing poets read and realizing that poets are permitted the pursuit of the lyrical, the metaphor, the emotional connection. The very structure of a poem and what can be contained in such a small form - the clarity of images, emotions, memory, questions posed - the notion of communication as a pursuit of grace - that this is sanctioned. Metaphor advances communication. Ideas, images, emotions are readable, can be grasped - seemingly born in a minute in a good painting or a good poem or a piece of jazz music that takes one’s breath away.

Literature and music do influence my painting. This is not to say that the history of art is not firmly streaming through my own ideas and called upon for formal elements and inventive brilliance. It is.

Often, bits of language capture attention, pulsing to become visual. My pictures might contain text as a formal element, except when image and painterly considerations take over and all that remains of any text is a title. Then metaphor becomes the very reason. Readable words are not intended as any sort of conclusion, but rather provide a form for what is vague or difficult-to- describe, to be expanded in. My work is a critique of art lacking in visual mystery and expansiveness. Metaphor invites viewer private contemplation and drift. I work to create a paradoxical visual and intellectual space that privileges thinking and imagination. The beauty of metaphor in tandem with questions in an open-ended picture is a thread in the history of art that I want to catch hold of. In counterpart, my aim is for the art to respond to the here and the now.