Kim McCarty’s obsession with watercolor and its ephemerality as a medium began when the artist’s home and studio burned down in a massive wildfire in 1993. Each McCarty painting since then is the result of many attempts at securing an image that reads as both static and transitory. The artist’s process of working wet-into-wet on loose sheets of watercolor paper laid out across the floor forces her to grapple with forms that might disappear or disintegrate at any moment, inviting a perpetual renegotiating and reimagining of her subject through the liquidity of pigment suspended in water.
Ever present are McCarty’s favorite subjects (the nude, the botanical), but these new works point more overtly to art history, especially iconic Classical imagery including the Venus De Milo and Garden of Eden. Such symbols inform and expound upon McCarty’s longstanding interest in ideas of youth, beauty, longing, and the ideal. Here, bodies past and present come together, inviting questions of how historical male and female selves might relate to the transforming gender identities of today. Flowers and buds suggest another play on gender, while the Cannabis plant hints at an underlying dreamlike thread of narratives.
The artist describes her desire (if not compulsion) to create and recreate an image as “a means to control all that is so intangible.” Such is the spirit of this exhibition, where the evanescent meets the material.