Carolyn Salas

Woman, Transcendent

<em>Sitting Figure</em>, 2021, hand painted ceramic tiles, powder coated aluminum.
Sitting Figure, 2021, hand painted ceramic tiles, powder coated aluminum.

Carolyn Salas studied abnormal psychology at the College of Santa Fe, while training to be a mold-maker. Her twin interests in Carl Jung’s ideas of the subconscious and the making of structural foam molds led to the creation of life-size, geometric, aluminum sculptures that incorporate elements of dream theory, language, mythology, and history. “I was reading a lot about signs and symbols,” she says, “and trying to think about how these archetypal images can be related—and translated—into artwork.” Not only do the pieces in her 2021 solo exhibition Buried Alive in the Blues (at the Mrs. gallery in Queens, New York) display characteristics of self-portraiture, they also respond to the political debates surrounding women’s bodies over the past five years—all the while reflecting the influence of ancient Greek art. Salas says that these “very simplistic shapes” are used “to create a language or assessment of the psychology of the body. I latched onto the image of the Caryatid, which are female figures holding up the weight of these internal structures that no one thinks about or sees.” Without their stoicism and their strength, she explains, everything around them would fall apart.

After sketching her works on paper, Salas models them with foam-core and collage. She then transfers these images into a computer program, using a 3D printer to cut the aluminum into their final forms, which are powder-coated with a matte white finish. Certain idiosyncrasies make their way into the finished art—if you look carefully, you will see small, ragged marks on the edges of each sculpture. It’s as if a drawing had jumped off the page and come to three-dimensional life. “I hope that the work transcends and can be seen as timeless,” Salas says, “that anyone at any point in time can see it and relate.”

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Noelani Kirschner is a former assistant editor for the Scholar.


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