Visions of a Cardboard World

 

  It has been said by some that we live in a “cardboard” world, filled with cut-outs and imitation, doomed by our fragility and ever-alienated from strength.  In the case of sculptor Karen Garrett, nothing could be further from the truth.  Her work is as unique as it is staggering, void of imitation and filled with the vulnerabilities of any highly sensitive artist.  Hers is a cardboard world in the most literal sense.  Utilizing cardboard in her sculpture is beyond sheer genius, it is revolutionary and daring in a genre where compromise and conformity are the dominant themes.

 

  Garrett’s work is highly personal yet far from self-indulgent.  It appears to come from the deepest recesses of the soul.  Her work transcends the novelties and feckless trends of the modern art world.  It is alternately provocative and mesmerizing, even when viewed by the layman.  Sculpture today, while impressive in size and magnitude, is often devoid of spirit.  Garrett’s work forces her audience to react and demands the eye and mind to connect at all times.  She does not allow the viewer to exist in any comfort zone because her work manages to represent a wealth of emotions.  Where there is pain, there is also hope.  Where there is near-defeat, there is never bankruptcy of spirit.  Spirit.  Most of all, it is the human spirit that drives her work.  Thus, you will find neither grandiose elements nor technophiliac aspects in her work.  What you will find is an unrelenting passion and uncommon dedication to the human experience, with all its blemishes and scars quite intact.  This is what separates Garrett’s work from categorization, this is what makes her work landmark.  The power of any piece is found in the delicate marriage of both style and substance.  Garrett has made that marriage work.  This, in itself, is no small accomplishment.  One need only view “The Headless Man” or “The Female Matador” as proof positive.

 

  Post modernism?  Retro-humanism?  New Humanist Movement?  The Passional Movement!  Perhaps there is counterbalance to the over-synthesized and generic representations of the modern art world.  Artists such as Garrett may indeed manage to awaken the senses and arouse the sensibilities of the (establishment??)  Without passion, the artist becomes servant to a cold and sanitized public that he has oddly enough helped to create.  The Passional Movement is long overdue.  The Passional refuses to compromise and wilt to the demands that are the order of the times.  He or she draws no influences that come from outside the realm of the human spirit.  Within this realm, there can be no boundaries.

 

Charles T. Rulander II

Associate Professor, University of St. Thomas

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