Hey, I am Cari, and I'm a painter.
I feel like Dexter at that one NA meeting, declaring my secret, saying it that way. But, it's true: I'm a painter. I know, right? I didn't think it was a possible career either, until I was living it. I often collaborate with my Dad (painter Don Quiett) on pieces, and you can read more about our story together here. I'm also a published writer (poetry and fiction in journals and reviews), creative writing teacher (I've taught university level courses and currently mentor autistic adult writers one-on-one). Below is how I see my story as a visual artist.
Your being here helps me keep doing this dream of a job and bring art in a personal way into people's lives. People like you, if you like all this of course : )
What's my Story as an Artist?
(The tl;dr version. If you're in a hurry, check out the pictures to the right to learn, quickly, a bit about me.)
When I was a little kid, I had a window seat with a big round window and built-in book shelves. I'd stand on the cushions tippy-toed and take art books from the shelf one at a time, so I always knew where the one I held belonged. Then, I'd curl up in the corner, and lose myself in paintings, page by page. I'd make up stories about who these people were to the artist, and I loved to imagine their world in the past as different to ours in the present. I particularly liked the color in the portraits of Renoir, and was fascinated by the casual nudity found in a slim volume of Courbet's paintings. Cassatt taught me the beauty of small moments, of children and families. And Kandinsky taught me that meaning doesn't have to be legible. Books are magic. In the recent "Cosmos" with Neil DeGrasse Tyson, he claims that writing a book can change the world. I couldn't agree more.
In high school, I fell in love with writing, and with Oscar Wilde's work. I saw myself in the fictional painter Basil Hallward in a way I'd never seen myself in a fictional character before, and I loved the idea that he put too much of himself in painting a portrait that looked nothing like him, that was of someone else. Beauty is a way of seeing. Wilde also taught me that paintings can change the way we see the world. The story, as it was told to me (though I have since found the details to be less than accurate, this is still my favorite version): Both Wilde and Monet would stay in the same hotel in London, the Savoy, and Monet would paint his view of the Houses of Parliament out of that hotel room window, and Wilde would say of his paintings, that Monet forever changed the way Westminster looked to all who saw his paintings. And, it's true, for me at least. I can't look at those famous buildings without conjuring Monet's vast sea of colors enveloping them. Art changes the world, too; it changes more how we see things as individuals. And, importantly, it can change how we see ourselves.
Since grad school (MFA in Poetry), I have been fascinated with self portraiture. Each time I render a vision of myself, it becomes a part of my self-identity. I can reassure myself, touch the keystone of my own truth, when I look at myself in my paintings and works of art. I am beautiful, complicated, sometimes ill, and sometimes seductive. More than anything, the portraits I've made of myself remind me of who I want to be. How I see myself, and how I want to feel in life, is worth more than anything to me.
Making art is fun, and natural. I want to show any one who sits for me the beauty they keep on the inside, that 'self' they let shine when they're engaged in living and being candid. I want to show you yourself. Furthermore, the way I think of it is: I want you to inspire yourself, as you inspire art.