Mixed-media abstract artwork by Carol Surface explores the many layers of urban life and the human condition. To see more of her work, please visit her website.
I grew up in a big family in a small house in Orlando, Florida. I began making beautiful things at an early age: drawings that decorated our house, birthday cakes in the shape of teddy bears and designer dresses from Vogue patterns. It was my way to satisfy my soul and to be seen, heard and appreciated amongst the other five children and a mother who was not very available.
When I was ten, I won an art contest and my parents sent me to a prestigious art school for Saturday lessons. Yet I never thought of making art my career. Art of all types was simply my means of expression and communication in a format of beauty. And so it remains.
It wasn’t until I married and moved overseas, that with the support and encouragement of my husband, I began to truly explore what it means to become an artist and to resolve to get good at it using watercolor as my first medium.
That was in the eighties, and since then I have explored many different media. I alway use as my fuel the personal searching and growth that are vital to me. Being unafraid to put “who you are” into art is the key to making authentic work, and in my twenty-plus years of teaching, I’ve taught hundreds of others to do that.
Art is an incredibly personal journey, yet its content is universal. I have collectors all over the world who appreciate this.
I’ve lived in Los Angeles since 1988 and as I’ve grown and matured, so has my passion for understanding the development and patterns of human behavior. This is at the core of my work.
In life, the exploration and understanding of the psyche and its diverse states of being is revealed to us in layers. Therefore, layers and the ability to obscure and see through illusion are central to my methodology and imagery. I thrill in making discoveries and connections about who we were as children relative to who we are as adults. I rejoice when those discoveries reveal themselves on my canvas.
I use the layers in the richly-layered tapestry of the urban environment as a metaphor for the psyche’s layers. In sidewalks, billboards and anonymous postings, I see a snapshot of the human condition. There is the need to be heard, impressions of communication, the depths and subtleties of relationships.
I view the tearing down and regeneration of urban layers as an incarnation of the life cycle. Each of my works follows such a path. I begin with structures of canvas, paper, metal, fabric, or panel and then add paper, paint, dress patterns or my photographs. I create a sort of subliminal chaos and then, after some time – weeks, months, even years – make an assessment of the piece’s personality, and guide it towards its natural life.
The patterns and structures found in the completed works are at once revealed and concealed. Just so are our own thoughts, feelings and patterns of behavior. I never tire of searching for the layers, because as with life, there is always something more to be discovered beneath the surface.