Review of “Since Midnight” art exhibit

Involuntary Thoughts by Carrie Ann Baade (2007-present)

“Since Midnight” is a collection of art by visiting artist Carrie Ann Baade in the Bardo Fine Arts Gallery. There are quite a few paintings in this exhibition. They were all so different, and frankly, walking in to the room was overwhelming. It is hard to know which work to look at first. One gets an immediate sense of how she might work by simply looking at the first piece you see when you walk in the room.

“Involuntary Thoughts” (2002-present) is a collage comprised of bizarre portraits. The portraits are made into a collage, and each portrait is also a collage in itself. It is chaotic, and a lot to look at. Each little piece of cut-out paper has been layered to make faces and bodies doing various things. It seems like the portraits are all made individually and then put on the wall with no particular reason one character is beside another. The work is held together by mostly clear office tape. Each eye or nose was cut haphazardly. The lines weren’t planned and drawn before cutting. The portraits cover an oblong, cloud-like space on the wall and then spill out onto the floor. This could be reminiscent of her working style. We cannot know how she works, but we can’t help but make assumptions based on what we see. It seems like tons of pictures were acquired and then all the characters were made in a frenzy, then taped up. It might look like this if John Nash did bizarre collages instead of math equations on his walls.

A lot of people can appreciate this style of collage because it is not about being neat and well crafted, it is about the actual content and the images themselves. She creates characters that are odd, whimsical, frightening and intriguing all at the same time. Each one is completely different. These entities are made up of pictures of famous works of art magazines, printed-on computer paper, construction paper, anything. These works are definitely reminiscent of Dadaism, because of their nonsensical nature. Logic and reason were not the focus. None of these figures would exist if the work were about emulating reality.

Detail of Involuntary Thoughts. Photo by Jenna Englert.

Parts of the portraits are often famous figures in art, just cut up and juxtaposed with other pictures to make something entirely different. The way they are put together transforms them into beautiful, strange, unimaginable creatures. Though you see the sum of the cut-outs as a whole entity, the parts are still noticeable and interesting in themselves. The way this collage is put together is really down to earth, and the work itself pulls you in and captivates you. It gives you a feeling you definitely would not expect receiving from a collage held together by clear tape.

When you look around the room it is now evident that the style of collaging used in “Involuntary thought” is probably how Baade brainstorms for other works.  The other pieces in the room are framed representations of this same type of characters but more “polished”. They are neat and clean, like most other work you will see in galleries today.  The pieces are somewhat reminiscent of caricatures, or cartoons, but also have a serious aspect because of other included images of blood, cannibalism, and darker matter.

The framed works are paintings and prints. They are not busy like the collage, but are refined single characters, that look like they were thought up by making the collages.

The Severance of Creeping Charlotte

All these people, animals and monsters are so outlandish and unexplainable, but Baade makes it so the character is both believable as a whole as well as keeping the different parts recognizable, just like in the collage.

It is like classical art, Beetlejuice and Alice In Wonderland put in a blender. It is definitely worth looking at. “ Since midnight” is a captivating collection of work. Her work will be shown in the WCU Bardo Fine Art Gallery until October 19.

“Since Midnight” is part of the Dada Festival, that was September 18-20th. The Dada Festival also included a Dada Chamber music concert, and orchestra concert, a visiting scholar lecture/film screening, and an Artist’s Talk from Carrie Ann Baade.