DAILY ARCHIVE: Mary Carothers

Wed 02 Dec

It’s in the Details: Artebella Daily curated by Daniel Pfalzgraf

Mary Carothers is a Professor of Photography and Fine Art at the University of Louisville where she’s been teaching a variety of photographic studies as well as collaborative and installation based projects since 1998. She received her BFA from Pratt Institute and an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. Her work has been exhibited extensively and she’s received grants from the Kentucky Foundation of Women, the Mid Atlantic Arts Council, and the Johnson Foundation, among others.

A common thread that often appears in Carothers’ work is interaction on a public scale in various iterations. This can be seen in her work as a professor, working in a public manner having direct interactions with groups of students at a time. Her installation- based works are made to be engaged with in a larger, more public scale than typical, singular works of art within a home or gallery setting. Even the delivery of her work takes on different forms of public engagement, such as her work on the collaborative piece “Frozen Car” that was largely experienced by many by being featured on Discovery Channel. Such is the nature of her latest public art installation, “Beneath the Surface,” that was one of the works created for the Louisville Metro Government’s Public Art Initiative and the Commission on Public Art’s “Connect|Disconnect” public art exhibition along the downtown Waterfront. The idea of public, or community, history and identity becomes the subject of the work composed of thousands of cast door knobs that she collected through her travels and posted them on iron rebar to mimic local landscape features and topography. Each individual piece represents an individual story or experience of a person or group within a community, that when combined with the many others, build a collective identity of the whole community.

Some of the pieces that I decided to feature this week are of very small and intimate scale, so I wanted to make sure to include something with a much larger presence. Working at the Carnegie Center and being a part of our New Albany Public Art Project has also given me a deep appreciation for what is involved with public art, so the projects that Louisville has helped develop are very exciting additions for our region. Even with large-scale works such as “Beneath the Surface”, it is important to get up close and examine the finer details of the work. Appreciation of the work that the artist had to do to create something to this scale is important, and examining something so closely I feel is especially important to the artist given the idea behind the work. Examining the smaller, singular pieces of the whole is akin to taking time to consider and reminisce over the individual stories of the different people to make the entire composition of our community, and even our larger society as a whole.

Connect|Disconnect is scheduled to close this week, but a few of the pieces will stay on view for a little longer. You can download the OTOCAST app for more information on all the work included in Connect|Disconnect exhibit, and follow the projects on Instagram @LouMetroPublicArt and with the hash tag #connectdisconnect2015. Mary Carothers’ also has a sculptural piece included in the “Photography Since the Millennium” exhibition at the Carnegie Center in New Albany Indiana through January 9, 2016.

Curator’s Statement: When I was asked if I’d like to curate a week of LVA’s Artebella Daily email blasts, my immediate, gut reaction was that of excitement. LVA does a lot of wonderful programming for local artists and the community at large, so I love opportunities to work with them. But as the excitement built, reality followed close behind to temper my buzz as I thought about how to curate a digital collection. I love tactile experiences. I like playing with space. What experience can a viewer have looking at a digital image representing a physical object from the analog world?

The digital age has trained us to only afford a cursory glance-over of online imagery as we form opinions within milliseconds. We know in an instant whether we want to continue investigating an item in front of us. If we don’t immediately dismiss an object, we may allow an additional three seconds before we either close the window or decide to read the introductory text accompanying the image. If there is enough of a connection made within the next few seconds of reading a snippet of a text, then we might decide to take action and click to either read more of the text or jump straight to the collection of images. Then what happens? We often flip through the images at a rate similar to our initial appraisal of the worthiness of the email. If the artist is lucky, maybe, just maybe, someone has spent as much as a full 30 to 60 seconds from which to completely judge the value of their work that they have created to be viewed in the real world, in the flesh, with special lighting and most importantly, not on a flattened screen at the fraction of the size of the original.

This mentality is the very antithesis of experience sought in museum, gallery, or studio settings. It is this new phenomenon that has given rise to counter movements such as the Annual Slow Art Day that never had a reason to exist before. We all love the immediacy and expansive access to new experiences, but how can we embrace our twenty first century realities while still honoring our more timeless traditions? This is a duality that I’ve played with for the past number of years as I coordinated online life for different galleries and museums. One solution to calming my irrational, neurotic fixation to this “problem” was to simply post detail shots on social media of work currently on view where I worked. I started with “Detail Shots of the Week” on the green building gallery Tumblr page while I was the Director there, and then carried the practice over to the Carnegie Center for Art & History when I became their Curator and started an Instagram page and the “Carnegie Daily Detail” series. It’s not a revolutionary idea, but it’s one that I feel gives more information, more of a focus, on work to viewers who are typically only given one overall view of a work, and often not at a high enough resolution to really zoom in on something for the very select few who would actually take the extra time and effort to do so.

If you are among the people still here reading this winded promulgation, thank you. Enjoy this week’s selection of singular works by local and regional artists and take a few extra moments soak in what the artists have brought to life. I hope these images will then encourage you to get out and explore art more intimately and in person, studying beautiful intricacies, subtle tonal fluctuations, and the individual that combine to form grand works of art. – Daniel Pfalzgraf

Featured Artwork

Mary Carothers
Beneath the Surface

porcelain and iron, dimensions variable, 2015

More Artwork by
Mary Carothers:

Beneath the Surface (detail #1)

porcelain and iron, dimensions variable, 2015.

Beneath the Surface (detail #2)

porcelain and iron, dimensions variable, 2015.

At a Glance:

Name: Mary Carothers

Hometown: Louisville, KY

BFA, Pratt Institute; MFA, Rhode Island School of Design

Website: Website: https://louisville.edu/art/faculty/mary-carothers-m.f.a