Lilli Carré’s creative expression cannot be contained within one medium—her work spans experimental animation, comics, printmaking, drawing, textile and ceramic sculpture—but as she moves within an extremely diverse spectrum the transition feels smooth, calculated and necessary.
In her videos, otherworldly, cartoon-looking creatures and strangely shaped silhouettes prevail. Similarly, her sculptural works—abstract ceramics that vaguely resemble mundane items—take interesting shapes and forms. Blurring the distinctions between real and imaginary, their anthropomorphic characteristics bestow them unique qualities. As if they have some sort of magic.
In “Stone Figures Mud Drawing,” at (northern) Western Exhibitions, minimalist ceramics sit on vividly colored pedestals. Their blue and green tones juxtapose with the warm, earthy materials. Clay figures and stone mosaics exist side-by-side—on the walls and on the gallery floor—bringing ancient craft techniques to mind. But in Carré’s work nothing is simply as it seems. Heavily informed by technology (CGI and computer logic) her forms appear like computer-generated objects that are somehow weird, unrealistic and, at the same time, fascinating. The real and the imaginary meet again—whether in the physical or in the digital world. Her sculptures have an organic feel at times resembling skin and flesh; other times, they feel completely artificial. Their mystic features add to the delightfully peculiar atmosphere of the exhibition. Like a self-sustainable ecosystem, it’s as if they’re alive all by themselves.
Carré’s narratives circle the body. Representations of the feminine form, desire, agency and personal narrative are central to her work that comes to life through the very physical processes of getting her hands dirty with lumps of wet clay and carving stone (think: slip and stone inlay, sgraffito, sandblasted etching, and repeated rubbings of terra sigillata on terra cotta). The artist describes the sculptural works as materially disobedient. “The clay wants to cave in, to explode, to crack, to shrink, to harden before I’m ready,” she says. “It has a mind of its own and an active say in its final form. I respond to the play and irreverence of working with mud, in contrast to the fine-tuned control and high level of repetition required in the other mediums I work in,” she adds, proving that the creative process is one of surrender, not control.
Carré enjoys things and concepts that stray from their point of origin. To her, nothing is set in stone. And it is in that state of flux that her imagination and creativity run wild. “Stone Figures Mud Drawing” is the embodiment of that. Existing where history and tradition meet technology and futurism, her forms defy expectations, disrupt norms and set new standards. By breaking the rules, they become something entirely new—and that’s where Carré’s work comes full circle.
Lilli Carré’s “Stone Figures Mud Drawing” is on view at (northern) Western Exhibitions, 7933 Lincoln, Skokie, through August 13.