Olivia Dudnik is the Arts Outreach Assistant at the Hamilton Arts Council. She completed undergrad in Art History at McMaster University and is currently completing her Master’s in Modern Art at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
Hamilton painter, Nathan Eugene Carson, opened his latest exhibition, May you always see the light at the August Art Crawl. This is his first show in Hamilton after completing his education at the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD) and spending several years exhibiting in Toronto (he collaborated with the Art Gallery of Ontario for, Now’s The Time, the Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibition in 2015). The show, on view at Oswald’s Gallery & Goods, consists of works on black paper, with figures and animals painted in oil, acrylic, charcoal, and other mixed media. Carson’s work for this show is inspired by Hamilton, translating his personal observations into a visual language.
Part of the artist collective at Oswald’s Gallery & Goods, Carson shares the space with the other members who take turns exhibiting their work. The artists can paint the walls or change the space to how they want. This differs from showing in a cultural institution where curators are involved and curate the artist’s work. For this show, Carson transformed the gallery by painting the walls black, challenging the traditional white gallery walls, then tacked his works with a black background onto the black walls. Carson has been working with black backgrounds for the past several years.
For Carson, this his first experience in an artist’s collective and he found it to be a learning experience. While Carson has a studio in his home, he was also able to use the gallery space to create seven of the works on view in the current exhibition.
May you always see the light incorporates music, creating a collaboration between painting and music. Seamus Hamilton, a musician who works with live, electronic loops, collaborated with Carson on this exhibition. Hamilton and Carson created three tracks, which were played at the opening reception. A vinyl record of the tracks was cut, recorded in Hamilton and Toronto. For Carson music is essential to his practice, he is always listening to music and looking for new music. Music is an important tool, as it helps create an experience, it is both inspiring for the creator and for the viewer.
Each figure in the show has its own purpose, life, and story. Carson describes himself as a whimsical person and as an air element. His persona can be seen in his works and his figures tend to be using different gestures, none of them stand static. Carson’s favourite piece in the show is the figure of the boy dressed as a bear (one of the first works that can be seen on the left when entering the gallery). For Carson, this figure is a protector, guarding him from the dangers and scary things in life.
Discussing his artistic process, Carson explains he works for long stretches of time, his “creative periods,” when he is constantly working and creating new pieces. Then he stops for a while, resting to absorb life and gather inspiration leading him to his next creative period. He is always working on something new, always moving to the next idea, never repeating something twice.
In addition to art, Carson teaches meditation, practices yoga, and loves reading. He is currently reading a series of books on contemporary art practice. Inspired by life, Carson is interested in what other people are doing, and what is currently happening. He is also intrigued by what happens in the afterlife, and suggests this is perhaps why he works with a black background.
Carson, as an artist, feels blessed and looks forward to meeting new artists and people.
WHEN? August 11 - September 03, 2017; closing reception Sun. Sept. 3, 12-4pm
WHERE? Oswald’s Gallery & Goods, 328 James Street North, Hamilton ON
Nathan Eugene Carson: https://www.nathaneugenecarson.com/
Seamus Hamilton: https://soundcloud.com/unusualnoises