By Julian Phillips
Caroline Santa’s Coda is an invigorating look at the creative process. Santa’s work at first glance is an experimentation in form and color, but when the realization settles that all of the works are pieces that have had form removed from them, new dimensions are opened. These new dimensions seem to excite Santa, who sees Coda as a beginning.
All of the pieces, though made through subtraction, have a sense of completion and cohesion. The aptly-titled “Not Within the Bounds of What is Considered Normal” is the first piece you see as you walk through the gallery. Creating an orange, green and black Z across the wall, this acrylic on paper work captures Santa’s fascination with negative space. The piece activates the wall in a subtle, yet commanding way and arrests your attention immediately.
“Not Within…” faces a graphite powder on paper work, titled, “Is it About Doing?” “No, it’s About Knowing.” The paper, described as found, stored, and transported, is accentuated with lines and creases that mark its time in the possession of the artist. The graphite powder washes over these seams and cracks of time, letting their forms show even more. Lastly, the piece’s size creates an elegant form on the wall: an oblong circle cropped by having its edges torn off. These two pieces directly across from each other juxtapose and relate the ideas of the artist: either by creating negative space (“Not Within…”) or by being a negative space (“Is it About…”).
Santa started to create this new body of work by removing form from old drawings. “Sub-rational Intuition” shows Santa’s improvisational skill and once again her ability to draw with negative space. The piece consists of two layered gray pieces of paper (formerly landscape drawings) with parallel slits cut into them, and a yellow streak formed by three long yellow rectangles underneath. The work creates form and depth with color, as well as by interacting with the wall.
“Inverted Shadow of a Remnant” places found pieces against each other, allowing a fresh look at what once were “scraps.” This work might be the most blatant display of the artist’s process. As a collage on the wall it shows how Santa has reused not only old drawings but old material for making drawings for her new work. Literal scraps of paper in the corner of the gallery, show not only what you would find in Santa’s studio but the array of choices she had in the creation of her pieces.
Coda is Santa’s second solo show as member of the collective Tiger Strikes Asteroid. The artist’s previous work shows an affinity towards use of strong color and shape, which “Coda” echoes but reinvents. Coda draws with materials and takes a look at the process of art making, one step of at a time. Santa’s ideas and approach make refreshing new pathways to consider. Coda is on view through May 29.