‘Red Bug on Milkweed’ Soft Sculpture. Carisa Kaplan 2016.

"Down to Earth" @ SNRE's Art & Environment Gallery

"Down to Earth" is now installed in SNRE's Art & Environment Gallery located in the Dana Building, Ford Commons. Please join us for an opening reception and artist's talk on Monday, November 21, 5-6 PM in the Ford Commons.

About the Artist:

Carisa Kaplan was born in Los Angeles but was whisked off to Ann Arbor, MI before her surfing career had a chance to take off.  Raised in Ann Arbor she acquired the thick skin required of those living with four seasons.  She grew to appreciate this when she worked in Hollywood.  After high school she moved back to California, but to the north for college at the University of California, Santa Cruz.  It was here that her serious interest in the arts developed and flourished with her studies in art history, film-making (documentaries) and photography.  After graduation she moved back to Los Angeles and began to work on Hollywood film productions eventually becoming a union camera assistant.  At some point she turned her sites to editing and postproduction and eventually left the industry for a career as a paralegal.  Throughout her career shifts she maintained a foot in the still photography world, whether it was shooting stills for a reality TV show or putting together her own small, fine art exhibits in local spaces.   She now resides in Venice Beach, CA with her husband, Erik, a dog, Oskar and a cat, Osaka.


Artist Statement:

As a photographer, I have become disenchanted.  With affordable smart phones and the Web the artistry of photography has morphed into it’s own evil twin.   But even before this I felt like we were on the verge of a breakup.  Perhaps it was the growing sense of global ennui that was getting to me but the lack of an emotional connection to my art form began to eat at me, creating a disheartening conundrum.

I have lived in the Venice Beach area of Los Angeles since the late 1980’s.  Just within the past few years there has been a phenomenal shift, tectonic even, seemingly from one day to the next.  It came in the name of Google.   Along with it came real-estate developers, restaurateurs, high-end yoga studios, $8 loaves of bread.  From the outside I knew it looked spectacular, but to me it was the little things, the unfriendly interlopers with their narcissistic parking habits and the trash they (and their dogs) left behind, that stung the most.  And yet this is precisely what got my artist wheels churning.  We are living in extraordinary times; the disparities immense and compromise seemingly impossible.  But I live for juxtaposition and it is here, in the oxymoron that I flourish.  

 A few years ago my husband inherited a “camp” on a lake in the Adirondack Park in Upstate New York and we are fortunate to spend summers there.   The contrast between my home in LA and this veritable Eden could not be more surreal.  The Adirondacks has had its fair share of destruction and recovery and the more time I spend there the more I see and learn.   And yet, the disparities of city mouse/country mouse proportions are surprisingly similar to both worlds.

 I have only recently begun to work in a 3D soft sculpture world. I am drawn to the tactile process of working an object, of watching it develop and of it taking on it’s own shape and attitude. By using photography as my starting point I can still work in a language in which I am most comfortable.   

For this show I wanted to take the small things, the seemingly insignificant, and focus on them.  After living in a concrete city it takes awhile to slow down to watch a monarch caterpillar dine on a leaf and see mushrooms push their way out of the earth.  It takes a little while to refocus your eyes and retrain your mind to look smaller, to see life on a completely different level.   I wanted to zero in on this, to point out in a seductive yet uncomfortable way what we are in danger of losing.


About the Gallery:

The Art & Environment Gallery opened in February 2012 to draw more attention to the influence of art in shaping our understanding of science and nature.

It features local and national artists whose work speaks to how people interact and understand the environment. The exhibits rotate every eight weeks during the school year and are presented in five showcases in the Dana Building’s first floor commons.

“The gallery draws attention to the intersecting values, both artistically and scientifically, of art and the environment." “Because of the way SNRE’s curriculum embraces interdisciplinary fields, it is a natural place to host this gallery. We are bringing art to our school to strengthen our sense of community and facilitate dialogue among students, faculty and staff in the spirit of green-building philosophy." ~ Sara Adlerstein, SNRE Associate Research Scientist and gallery organizer and curator.

Each show features an opening talk by the artist followed by a reception.