Tag Archives: iamkingcarla

Notes from kingCARLA 3

 

In Post-Partum Document, artist Mary Kelly explores the mother-child relationship.

In Post-Partum Document, artist Mary Kelly explores the mother-child relationship.

 

By Carla Aaron-Lopez

kingCARLA  writes about the experience of being an emerging artist. Her previous posts are  Notes from kingCARLA and Notes from kingCARLA 2.

Last time I was in this space, I was complaining commenting about being an emerging artist. I made statements about getting over rejection and pushing to make more work instead of being such a procrastinator. I’m still a procrastinator actually but soon after, I began working two jobs and my tune has changed a bit transforming into something else. At this point, I’ve joined the American workforce as a middle school art educator while I work the retail slave ship on the weekends slinging slacks to 40-year old men that wish to look younger. It’s a heavy load to work seven days a week constantly but I’ve got a child that needs stability. I’m a parent, yo. An artist and a parent. Add in the fact that I’m a woman and you’ve got a black unicorn on your hands.

And how is this possible, you say?

Like this.

Art is my life but my son is bigger than art. Sometimes, art has to be put on the backburner staying warm for him to have a home to live in, proper clothes to wear and yummy food to eat. I’m not breaking up with art. I just have to take long pauses here and there. Recently, I came across an article that I actually agreed with on Hyperallergic. It was a weekend long-read titled The Problem of the Overlooked Female Artist: An Argument for Enlivening a Stale Model of Discussion written by Ashton Cooper. Hell of a title. I commend Cooper or the copyeditor for thinking of that.

I became enlivened by her perspective on the redundant language used to talk about women artists. Cooper sourced numerous articles released about women artists throughout 2014 in which the language used to speak about them was either truly stale and unimaginative or spoke about a woman artist in a rediscovered fashion as if she was a fly on the wall during big historical moments in art but really she was an active and vocal artist the entire time the big historical moment in art was going down. Check out this excerpt from the article about Phyllida Barlow in which the author quoted an article from The Guardian circa March 2014:

She’s taught everyone from Martin Creed to Rachel Whiteread, but it’s only now, at 70, that Barlow is getting her dues as an artist.

Barlow, who turns 70 this week, has spent her adult life making sculpture, enjoying her greatest success by far over the last 10 years.

She went on to the Slade until 1966, and then began teaching, and having children; she and Peake have five in all. […] In those days, she was working in total isolation.

The part I highlighted in bold stood out quite strong to me. Especially the part that says she was working in total isolation. I guess when you have five children, everything is all about your children. Hell, I only have one! My guess is that art never went onto the backburner for Barlow as it has for me but I know it wasn’t always on the forefront either with her being a teacher and a wife. My other guesses include that she was never in isolation with five children and she eventually had to learn how to become an effective teacher. I may not know much about Barlow but I can relate to her story if those are the only tidbits I ever learn about her.

The article comes to an apex while speaking about Barbara Hepworth, her married life and her cavorting with the international art world and comes to close with fascinating information around Judy Chicago, Isa Genzken and Sarah Charlesworth’s careers with some strong questions: What was she doing then? Where was she showing? Who was she in community with? How did her practice change? What forces of exclusion did she face?”

I don’t know. The information just isn’t there. What I do know is that if reality showed up at any of these women’s doors looking like maternity then it is my hopes they assumed their new roles as mother to a child (or more) and truly began a new adventure, chapter, section of their lives. We already know the art world is notoriously white, male and sexist as well as racist. We also already know that many people believe that when a woman gets pregnant, her life is automatically over. That’s not necessarily true. If the lives of the women outlined in this article were over I think we wouldn’t be talking about them. There wouldn’t be a Tate retrospective on Barlow or MoMA’s current exhibition on Sturtevant (who’s completely new to me).

In essence, I believe they sharpened their metaphorical swords in the hours after the children went to bed or over to grandma and grandpa’s house for the weekend because that’s the only time I get to do anything regarding art. Everything becomes a juggling act that you just work out over time. I hope to make work as profound as these women but I don’t want to be 70 years old to get my recognition for it. That’s that bullshit if I have spent a lifetime possibly struggling to support my family on teacher pay. I’d rather take the recognition money now and create a trust fund for my son because that’s my reality in addition to art.

Too bad I wasn’t born with a dick because I wouldn’t have the ability to give birth and be weighed down with the overwhelming responsibilities of having child. Everything always falls on the mother whether a father is or isn’t present. While I care so much about art, I’ve learned that the art world doesn’t care about my child. Making the decision to sacrifice my love for art is constantly on and off the table. Every moment becomes a moment to create or think about art differently. I’m constantly sharpening my metaphorical sword as an art teacher to a group of students who could honestly give a fuck about art in the first place.

It’s hard out here for a pimp!

Based on that article and these words I’ve written, I guess I’ve got to pimp harder.

 

Artist: Carla Aaron-Lopez 

woke up with my horns on. fell in love with a cadillac. born/raised in charlotte, nc. baptized in the dirty south also known as atlanta.

@iamkingcarla
whoiskingcarla.com

Notes from kingCARLA 2

By Carla Aaron-Lopez

kingCARLA  writes about the experience of being an emerging artist. Her first post was Notes from kingCARLA.

carla aaron-lopez 1

Ever heard the saying: You get a lot of NO’s before you get to YES?

I hate it. Drives me insane. Especially when I get turned down for exhibitions when I know my shit is tight. But alas, life moves on… because it has to. Doesn’t it?

Recently, I introduced myself to Charlotte, NC to a small crowd of people that I knew and people that I didn’t know. I’m quite into creating my version of Southern culture therefore I served everyone cherry moonshine. By the end of the night, people were happily drunk and into the works that I put on the wall. Now that that night is over, I find myself back in the mundane motions of an everyday routine. And today in email form about a juried exhibition in DC, I received my last no. Like, seriously folks, the shit is really beginning to piss me off so bad that I don’t know what my next move is but when I get there I’ll let you know what I did.

carla aaron-lopez 2As an emerging artist that is trying to take my professional life seriously, I’m working through these issues all artists have. Some of us will be able to get over them. Sadly, most do not. If I continue to have a temper tantrum or fall into depression every time I get a no then I’m not really living my artist life to the fullest. Therefore, when things like this show up… I review my resume.

Why?

Because I can remind myself of all the work I’ve put in over the past 10 years as an artist and to see where I would like to be for the next 10 years. Life steadily evolves without our permission. If I spend all my time concentrating on the bad/negative/upsetting parts I will miss my opportunity to shine. And that moment is coming up soon in the form of a panel discussion at Georgia State University on blackness as aesthetics. Bruh. I know that shit so well for the weird negros, white folks and people of color in America. I’ve chosen that event at this moment to be that professional artist I see myself as when no one is around. That campy motherfucker with a Southern twang dropping sweetly ignorant yet highly intelligent verbals from her mouth. A modern day Zora Neale Hurston.

My fantasies. They’re huge. Tengo grandes cojones… metaphorically speaking.

Back to the resume review.

In order to play the character I’ve created, I need to review what I’ve done and what it means to me. I think that from there I’ll be able to have a stronger basis for my aspirations as an artist and begin boiling down who my audience is. And I know my audience is small. I believe them to be a perverse group of humans that are rather bored with mediocrity and normalcy of American culture. They hate what’s perfect and enjoy the seedy underbelly of popular culture. It’s dangerous grounds to lurk in those spaces but to an outcast (or marginalized person) it is home and peaceful. For years, I’ve created works that attract this group of people. That is, within reason because the rabbit hole of human oddities runs very deep and very scary. I’m fascinated by the relationship of what’s considered normal in societies and what’s marginalized in terms of the human experience.

carla aaron-lopezMaybe that’s why I get so many no’s. I’m black woman but don’t really care to produce works again and again on the gaze/masculinity of white and black men. I’d rather empower a bitch and keep it moving but don’t call me a fucking feminist. And because I’m black, I’m bored with the constantly reproduced slave narratives. The content needs to be really fucking fascinating or else I forget about it. I know my history very well therefore I seek to produce works that challenge the new contemporary ways in which racial/sexual contracts are upheld in American culture. Now, that shit can go somewhere over hill and into outer space. Maybe I need to be a male artist.

Maybe then I’ll get noticed.

Nope. Fuck that.

I know my day will come when I stop getting Wangechi Mutu references. Until then, fuck these no’s. I’ve got more exhibitions to apply to, a new body of work to establish, a panel discussion to prepare for and a baby boy to raise in America.

I ain’t got the time to be in my feelings over a damn no.

And neither should you.

Peace,
kingCARLA

kingCARLA with friend Solomon at "Who is King Carla?"

kingCARLA with friend Solomon at “Who is King Carla?”

 

Artist: Carla Aaron-Lopez 

woke up with my horns on. fell in love with a cadillac. born/raised in charlotte, nc. baptized in the dirty south also known as atlanta.

@iamkingcarla
whoiskingcarla.com

 

Notes from kingCARLA

by Carla Aaron-Lopez

They call this the beginning of a career. Even though my resume is already a mile long, I believe it to be the start of getting to that “emerging artist” label. Somewhere in grad school, I attended a lecture from an artist who asked my class what we were going to do once we graduate. We all agreed that he was crazy and answered that we were going to get jobs and go to work. At the time, it seemed like it made sense and that’s what some of us went off to do. We graduated, got jobs and became professors at respective universities.

However, for some of us, those cards didn’t stack that way. In my case, I was an adjunct at a historically black university for three years until I was cut. I still don’t know why. My unemployment says I was cut because of low enrollment and since then I haven’t been able to pick up another job. I had no choice but to do what I had been trained to do which is be an artist and when I look at the art world in motion I see less of me and more of those that taught me.

Lots of old white men and women. Ain’t nothing wrong with that but it forces me to wonder if I should do this at all. My ego is too big to let appearances cause me to quit. Therefore, I can’t help but to ask and investigate what it takes to be an artist of color in the 21st century. It’s 2014 and I find I still have to play cute little games to get accepted into this centuries old world. I come from a different place. I call it the dirty South, others just call it Atlanta. I’m not much into creating works that examine the place of black women in America or the African diaspora. I’m also not interested in making works that dog the sh*t out of men. I prefer making works that reflect my Southern background just like the ignorant rap music I love listening to while I create works. If you want a postcolonial discussion from me, I’ll direct you to my homie, Christopher Hutchinson, because he has the words you can’t run from.

In the meantime, this post is being created to help you (and me) explore what it takes to be an artist. And here’s the first step. Explore your influences. It doesn’t have to solely be artists. It can be writers, thinkers, dancers and/or rappers. As much as I love rappers is as much as I love Jean Baudrillard and Michel Foucault. It could even be television characters like the great Doctor Who. Examine why you are drawn to these influences. Is it the confidence you’re attracted to? Is it theories that you’ve read and you want to create something that reflects what you’ve learned? Is it history of a person, place or thing? I don’t know. It’s your world coming to life as an artist. We all have a world we live in that separates us from the next person. I believe that’s how we all keep our sanity. Don’t believe me? Check my next paragraph.

When I graduated with a MFA in photography in 2009, I ended up with a crappy job at TSS Photography transferring children in sports photos to products like keychains, dog tags and mugs to name a few. I hated it. I also didn’t have a camera and I was driving myself crazy. One day, I came across Romare Bearden again and remembered how my favorite black artists could only work using few materials because they had regular crappy jobs and families to feed. I looked around my apartment and saw that I had scissors, glue and plenty of collected magazines. If I couldn’t shoot the photograph then I figured I could make a new image using ones I found in magazines. It was at that moment I realized that I was more than the photographer that some cute little sheet of paper declared. I realized that I needed to investigate image making. In 2011, I started a new body of work that has taken me in a direction that I never anticipated. I dropped a baby from the womb in 2012 which led me to think about the nature of creation. OF COURSE, I knew NOTHING of what it meant to be pregnant. Let alone a mother of color in a world that believes itself to be post-racial. No. I began to think about what images and influences I will be bringing around my son based upon the things I had grown to like. None of them were very pretty, soft or becoming of a woman. They were quite hypersexualized, crude and rude. Just how I like my life.

That woman you see in strip clubs laughing with the dancers? Yeah. That’s me. I love being your family’s worst nightmare walking through your house for dinner. A dirty intellectual. The work I created ended up being bodies that were imbued with power because they appear to be powerless. What happens when you flip a world upside down and inside out?

You get the beginnings of an emerging artist. Take a look and tell me what you think. If the work makes you feel uncomfortable then my job as an artist is complete because those are the images I have to deal with on a daily basis.

– Carla Aaron-Lopez
@iamkingcarla
whoiskingcarla.com

original mother, 2011

original mother, 2011

biggie alone, 2011

biggie alone, 2011

black girl jesus, 2012

black girl jesus, 2012

queen vanessa, 2011

queen vanessa, 2011

duality, 2011

duality, 2011

garvey fart, 2012

garvey fart, 2012

zombie shaman, 2012

zombie shaman, 2012
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