Jessica Carder’s Artistic Vision Sees Truth Deeper than Realism

At a time when the world often seems driven by vast, clashing forces beyond our understanding, Jessica Carder believes that art can answer our search for meaning.

“Human beings, we like our symbols,” Carder says. “With everything going on in the world, in the environment, it’s chaos across the board and we can’t communicate what we’re experiencing. So we cling to these stories about angels, demons, dragons and wolves.”

A blend of fantasy and symbolism using photography, mixed media

Carder’s work in photography and mixed media mingles imagery from mythology and fantasy with age-old symbols for abstractions: clocks, masks, skulls. Carder points out that fantasy has been soaring in popularity in books, television, and film for ten to fifteen years. “Our enemies now feel so big and so surreal, and it’s just a time of conflict for humanity,” Carder says. Part of the purpose of her art is to allow others to explore otherwise inexpressible depths in their own experience through the timeless symbols she now employs.

Carder’s art hasn’t always looked this way. “When I started my art, I didn’t want anyone to question what I was thinking or feeling. So I used lots of pretty lines. It was a way for me to turn off my brain, a hiding place.”

Now, though, she says that her work has evolved in a new way. “It’s the flip side of my previous work. This show is the first time I’ve put myself in my art. Now, it’s a way for me to explore emotions and question myself. I’m asking ‘why did I want to turn off my brain?’ I’m looking at the trauma we all go through. The life situations and places we live end up defining us, defining how we think. If I strip all that away, who am I? What makes me tick?”

Symbolism portrays artist’s inner world

These searching, self-examining questions explain Carder’s choice of mythic symbols, and her own description of her work as “dreams” or “visions.” Her works produce the effect of an opened interior world, a place of mystery that seems timeless and resists stereotypes. A woman is entwined by the strings of a violin, her skirt a vivid splash of red. Another woman stands in a dreamy smokescape (or is it just the clouds of a white skirt?) bearing a skull, while other symbols swirl overhead. These settings are opaque with colored light, and some seem completely outer-dimensional, as if the landscape has dissolved into the consciousness of the central figure. And the central figure is often the artist herself. Carder’s work is manifesting a dreamworld, the layered mists of the psyche, the inner world of truth beneath our appearances.

Viewers find their own stories told in the symbols

One of the pleasures of Carder’s work, as she states, is the opportunity for viewers to find their own stories in her work. So bring your friends and prepare not only for an experience of visual beauty, but also a chance to get to know your friends better, as they tell you their own responses to the Rorschach test of this exhibition.

To see Jessica Carder’s work, join us for her opening reception on Second Friday Art Night from 5:00pm to 8:00 pm at the Bookstore at Library Square, 100 Rock Street.