In My Room – Susan Carr at LABspace

A Photo story

Installation view of In My Room

Upon entering In My Room, Susan Carr’s solo show at LABspace in Hillsdale, NY, my senses are overloaded in the best way by the colorful and tactile work. The gallery is teeming with an impressive amount of work that fills the walls, floor, and pedestals. As I walk around, I am greeted with the fond familiar smell of fresh oil paint— thick, bold, and often mixed on the surface. This application is important to the overall sensation of Carr’s work. It makes me grasp the immediacy and the confidence that are necessary to make the work. Squeezing paint directly from the tube onto the canvas requires a commitment from the artist and Carr dives in headfirst to create paintings of zombies, clowns, self-portraits, and eyeballs.

From left to right What up Pythagoras? or Waving Into Infinity, A Totem With a Message, or What the World Needs Now, Bums Up, The Cave

The sculptures are made up of mostly abstract shapes and patterns, but the occasional text, like “LOVE YOU”, appears. As if plucked directly from her paintings, the 3D shapes which are stacked on top of each other, radiate, bounce, and even reach out to me to look at them. It is amazing how free and lively she makes these stationary wooden sculptures covered in oil paint feel. Carr is unapologetically herself, and her hand is always present whether it’s in the thick black outlines or the texture of ceramics. The artwork has an overall playfulness, but it doesn’t take long to understand that there’s something deeper happening.

The Mask Gets Heavy, 2020 oil on wood, 20 x 16 inches

In The Mask Gets Heavy, Carr paints in a childlike way of swirling different colors together, ending up with a muddiness in the face, while a very pure white mask hangs around the neck with a smile attached to it. Relatable to the current human experience, the figure looks less enthused and has taken the mask off, revealing its more accurate exhausted state.

Top then left to right Self Portrait: In the Fire of Other Suns, For Everything, Fine Balance, Compass Rose

As I turn the corner to enter the back room of the gallery where the walls have been painted baby pink, I am immersed in a soft glow. It’s so soft that for the first few moments I am convinced the wash of pink coloring the walls is coming from the large hanging sculpture Untitled, but it’s yet another example of the thoughtful attention to detail by the curators and owners of LABspace, Julie Torres and Ellen Letcher. In the same space leaning against the yellow pole is Rock an Rolla, a smiling doll figure wearing a wig, plastic pants, boots, and a necklace. This reminds me of the experimentation of materials that the prolific Susan Carr plays with.

Installation view featuring Rock an Rolla, 2020 fabric, plastic pants with a metal zipper, wig, and a necklace of beads from Ethiopia over six feet tall

Carr manages to translate her work flawlessly between ceramics, fiber, paintings, and sculpture. It is a privilege to see all these mediums together as if I’ve entered her mind where the sculptures and paintings speak to one another and it all makes perfect sense.

From left to right The Soul in a Thing, Rainbow Pie, Long Shadows

Installation view of the back room of the gallery featuring Untitled and Rock n Rolla

All photos by Kelsey Renko

Susan Carr: In My Room at LABspace Final weekend: Sat & Sun, November 14 & 15th, 1-5pm, and by appointment 2642 NY Route 23  Hillsdale NY 12529

Kelsey Renko is a painter living and working in Upstate New York. Her studio is located in Troy, NY where she has helped found an artist collective called The Church Troy. Kelsey is the Art Loan Program Coordinator for Roommate: Living with Tang Art, at The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum. She received her BFA in Painting from The College of Saint Rose in 2015 where she was awarded for excellence in drawing and painting.