Sunday, 27 October 2013

Metamorphosis: Carolyn Jao

"People aren't static, and you have to capture their essence."

Carolyn Jao believes that art is all about capturing dynamism packaged within human beings. Both in motion and in stagnation, the purpose is to capture the subject's inherent energy. 


Working as a professional graphic designer, Carolyn uses her abilities and creativity to accurately project her client's artistic vision in the form of a website. Even though she loves the graphic design aspect of her artistic profile, she would rather indulge more in illustration and printmaking. 


Born in California, USA, and raised in Taiwan till she was 13-years-old, Carolyn moved to New York for illustration and printmaking. She focusses on printmaking more because printed items have a quality about them that makes them different. She uses oil-based ink for printmaking, and it possesses acids that can seep into the metal plate being used for etching a print: leaving its own marks in the work.


In her pursuit of the dynamism within her subjects, Carolyn created a series of prints, 'Reptile,' presenting animals as people. Her focus: hands. She chose amphibians, because they, among nature's creatures, provide a versatile palette for features that will later appear in the print. Their scaling , colours, texture, and the fact that they are primeval make them valuable ingredients of the 'Reptile' series.


Hands clasped and bound behind the back, the human presented in its animal form, is constrained. Tied up and helpless to do anything about the compelling factors around him, the human can all but plead for help. Whether it's tradition, customs, religion, government, or the economy that binds us and holds us back, most if not all, can do nothing more than implore those in power, holding the strings, to set us loose. 


The 'Nightingale' is another print that bleeds its innocence out for the world to see. Pierced by the ever-changing circumstances, the song of this inherently peaceful songbird changes into lament. Or to some, it sings a song of cheerfulness and hope for the days to come.

On the Heights of Despair

On one of Carolyn's walks through the historically rich New York City, she came across a series of buildings that were being abandoned because of their failing conditions. To her it was an opportunity to preserve not destroy. So she took pictures of the buildings and produced prints that ooze a deep sense of sorrow.

Lower East Side

In the next few years, the buildings may not longer be available, but the prints have helped preserve them for times to come. Abandoned and forlorn, Carolyn's prints have regenerated and given the buildings a new birth. 

The darkness and depth in Carolyn's art is evidence of a maturity that very few artists have reached at such an early stage in their careers. The ease with which she handles themes that would most certainly invoke deep-seated human fears is no less than charming. 


And in Carolyn's view, it is the fears, the imperfections, and the irregularities in art that make it perfect. 

"Leaving a little bit of imperfection is what makes it so important and artful. Perfection to me is actually imperfection in the work. The imperfection is what makes the art interesting and gives it spontaneity."


Another medium of art Carolyn has experimented with is clay. She prepared clay figurines and used stills to create a motion picture. 


For a children's book project, aimed at presenting stories with a lesson, Carolyn contributed one of her dark-art pictures of a child lying on a sofa. As artistic as the picture is, the purpose of the darkness instilled in the print is to jolt the reader to attention. And that is exactly what it does. 


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