Carolyn Lavender: New Journal Paintings

In theĀ JournalĀ series, Phoenix-based visual artist Carolyn Lavender clearly reveals her ample technical expertise and visual curiosity in a celebration of the elegance of mark making and the line. Forty of the initial 50+ works in the series were exhibited at Modified Arts, Phoenix, in March-April, 2009. These new works also demonstrate the latest leap forward in a career trajectory that has sustained momentum since 2001. At that time, also at Modified Arts (owned/directed by Kimber Lanning), Lavender lassoed viewer and critical response with an exhibition that revealed her reaction and frustration with the 2000 national election results. She also showcased her competence in working with a wide spectrum of art making techniques including a mesmerizing large-scale grid of mixed media self-portraits, as well as with itaglio prints and Polaroid transfers with her likeness.

Lavender works from her journals, an activity she began at age 14 and a passion she vigorously pursues. By the early 1990s, her journal collages had become more involved, and by 2005 they began to inform her art making. With acute visual literacy, she has produced an exquisite group of small works that are drawings of collaged journal pages. She does not consider her journals to be art, describing them as “completely free of self-censorship” in terms of what is appropriated adn manipulated. The opened pages of her journals immediately commandeer the viewer, resulting in a feast for the eyeballs and a voyeuristic stirring evoked by the opportunity to gaze at intimate evidence of memories and experiental impressions and thoughts. They reveal richly ornate, imaginative, and surreal collages of print imagery appropriated from personal photos and from a diverse scope of readings and research both in art history and in contemporary culture. Written journal entries fill the negative space around the collages.

Lavender is a passionate collector of images with thousands laid out on tables in her studio and then stored in boxes and folders for safekeeping. In order to show a diary/sketchbook-type effect, she maintains the exact scale of the journal collages by tracing the images onto canvas panels. She alternates between illuminating the images of specific journal pages and assembled imagery reconfigured from multiple pages. Any narrative content is an intuitive, autobiographical by-product of imageery previously collected.

To see images of a select number of paintings, click on the link below: