Carly Newman is a Chicago-based artist with a BA from Beloit College and a BFA from School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her work spans a breadth of styles and media, from hosting online interactive social performance art to fabricating large-scale paintings made from natural plant dyes and upholstery materials. Carly’s current work consists almost entirely of collaborative work, in open defiance of the individualistic character of the artistic mainstream. Recontexualizing ‘needing help’ as a position of power, her work disrupts an individual-centered discourse, highlighting its limits and restrictions through radical disability visibility and activism. Carly’s work has been exhibited at the Hyde Park Art Center, Sullivan Galleries, Comfort Station, and the Wright Museum of Art. Carly is the creator of The Curators’ Search Engine, I Stand with Plant Parenthood, The Social Art Department, and Fratchmaking (friendship matchmaking).
My work is about childhood memories: those that drive us to recreate the past in the name of nostalgia, and those that stew and send us to therapy. My work contains:
middle school troubles,
love and nourishment,
passive aggression around the dinner table,
the immeasurable value of shiny, plastic “stuff,”
the self-reproach of childhood anxieties,
dress-up and the malleability of identity,
and that one thing my mother said to me in passing.
The work lives anecdotally, often in company with a short story or shared memory. The stories too vary in tone, existing as hyperbolic, childlike tales, or a detached, clinical understatement.
Instead of canvas, I use curtains, tablecloths, and blankets. These domestic fabrics are used to cover, protect, comfort, or hide, and over time fade into living environments becoming nearly invisible. I’m interested in how we decide whether to share memories or keep them secret. There are memories we hide even from ourselves. I see my paintings as symbols for these well worn tools we use to cope, protect, hide, or communicate. They represent the negotiations we have with our past, and how much of ourselves is accessible to our own mind and those around us.