Paintings by Caroline LeDuc
Honors in Art – Candidate Exhibition
April 18 – May 20
Making this work started with an attempt to practice art like I practice performance. Anne Bogart’s Viewpoints method became a jumping-off point in theory and in practice. The exercises Bogart uses to activate her Viewpoints for theater are just that: exercises, fleeting, laboratory spaces for listening to and gaining comfort with the body and its responses to the space around it. This art is about locating my body in space, acknowledging what occurred in my interactions with the stretched, primed canvas and the studio as a specific place. Like the embodied discoveries made in a Viewpoints exercise, the marks capture the immediate, embodied, and ephemeral nature of my moments with each canvas. These paintings trace the moments of my contact with them, collapsing this time into momentary performances of their making.
I use oil and acrylic paint; charcoal and graphite; wood stretcher bars, plywood corners, nails; unprimed canvas, gesso; my body. These materials manifest the essence of my visual artistic practice; they perform my history as an artist as well as my experience with them in the studio.
My analytical brain ticks and questions. How does this work approximate my time in the space of the theater? (Does it?) Stepping up to a blank canvas and marking the gestures of my body feels more structured than a Viewpoints session. Not everything I do in the studio marks the canvas; many stretches, jumps, breaths, even deliberately repeated motions are omitted from the performance of this work. These unmarked moments introduce doubt to my framework. Are they real if I fail, or elect not, to record them? What is the canvas to my analogous theater? A blank stage? (I built these canvases; did I build my own stage?)
I move to unstretched canvas, taking it off the wall, and orienting myself in space upon a new plane of discovery. Unstretched, I find that I make not just the markings, but also the shape and space of a canvas with my body. It is a new element of expression, new form to explore. I mold the canvases, using my body as the stretcher bars, finding the shape of the canvas through myself, rather than from the dictations of the built bars. I return to the stretched and primed canvases with new viewpoints.
I was not building a stage, but preparing it as though preparing my body for performance. I am just as integral to the shape of canvas when it is stretched with these bars as when I stretch and wrestle with the canvas. Every part of the canvas and every mark made by brush or body captures the presence of the artist in space and time of the studio: unrepeatable but continually critical to the sequence of events that yielded the work. Workshops, rehearsals for performance.
Art is the only way I can relate to the world. It is a more accurate way for me to reflect my musings and beliefs than the written or spoken word, and it resists urges to string experience into a linear structure. This criss-crossing of time and space is what I feel most accurately represents me (more than speaking or writing) – these works are each performing the body; my body, what I started understanding as trace evidence ended up actually being the thing itself. Though each piece is separate, singular and unable to be replicated precisely, they are each capturing performances of my body in the studio space. In this way I do not consider them to be archival documents, but rather enactments of performance in the studio.
Rebecca Schneider says, “absent flesh does ghost bones.” These fossils, bones of a just-past present, interact just as fully as if they are not of the past. In truth, they aren’t only of the past. Like all performances, they remain present; they remain with.
About the Artist
Caroline LeDuc is a senior Presidential Scholar in Visual Arts and a Dingledine Arts Scholar at Wake Forest University, with a double major in Physics and Studio Art. She has dedicated much of her time to many areas of the arts on campus, including music, directing for Innuendo a cappella, as well as performing and scenic designing for various University and student-directed works, most recently performing and co-composing for The Caucasian Chalk Circle. She has shown her studio work in multiple group exhibitions at START Gallery and Hanes Gallery, including From Rocks, Let it Show!, and Summer Selections, and last year, she installed a site-specific installation, We Attend to Each Other, as part of a co-created STARTyourself exhibition. She is particularly interested in the intersections of all visual and artistic languages, and much of her work engages with these boundaries to thematically explore relationships between self and other.