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Local Artists Live: Carole Carson
May 22, 2021; 10:00 AM–10:30 AM CDT
On May 22, Local Artists Live will feature Carole Bandy Carson, a certified interior decorator and a self-taught artist from Opelika, Alabama. Carole’s work pays homage to the past by incorporating themes of family, history, and faith—sing vintage photos as her inspiration, her work embodies nostalgia and the human experience as it relates to African Americans. She enjoys documenting everyday Southern life and has a deep admiration for Black sharecroppers, the simple life, the Civil Rights movement, and the Black church.
Carole’s paintings, usually figurative pieces of Black women, use bold, bright colors outlined in black, reminiscent of the stained glass windows in the churches of her youth. These places of worship—her church and her friends’ churches—were the foundation for her relationship with people, her faith, and her relationship with Christ. Her figures embody the strength of the women she grew up watching, and are often painted with lots of attitude and personality in their poses and expressions.
Read on below to learn more about Carole’s artistic preferences and love for Southern living, and tune in for her feature to see some of her colorful artwork live from her studio!
Above: Carole Carson, Lotti, 2020, acrylic/mixed media on 140LB. cold-pressed watercolor paper
This program is part of the series:
Meet the Artist
What is something you appreciate about life in the South?
There are many things that I appreciate about life in the South, starting with its slow, digestible pace. Looking back, I appreciate growing up here and being able to soak in family, community, and life lessons. There is such a rich history in the South…more stories than I can ever tell in my work. I’ve lived in Chicago and Wisconsin…there is nothing like the love of the South.
What are some works of art in the MMFA’s collection that inspire you and why?
In November of 2019, I participated in the MMFA event Bearing Witness: Art of Alabama symposium. I noticed a painting that was used in the promotion and fell in love. It was called Saturday Morning by John Kelly Fitzpatrick. I also really love a piece of his entitled Negro Baptising. I am fascinated by his use of color, the nostalgic content, and the nod to the simplicity of life in his work.
What piece of art that you have created is your favorite, and why?
All of my work is my favorite until I create a new one. One of my most recent favorites is Lottie (see above), which is a painting of a Black Victorian. I played a little with adding new elements to that piece, including a piece of my gourd jewelry and a vintage handkerchief. The other is Pearls of Wisdom which was a commissioned piece of three generations of women sitting on a porch swing.
Do you have an all-time favorite work of art, and have you seen it in person? If you have, how did you feel at that moment?
Ernie Barnes’ work has been inspirational to me since childhood. It was seeing his work on Good Times that convinced me that I could be an artist. Black Jesus and Sugar Shack are my favorites.
What drives your creativity?
Vintage photos, ephemera, and stories told about African Americans. I love hearing about and seeing our lives through a positive and inspiring lens that was always available to me growing up, but not always seen by everyone.
What advice would you give to beginning artists?
I tell all young people to keep creating regardless of what your end goal is for your art. My art has been healing for me throughout my life. I now understand that it is also healing to others. Create for yourself first then share yourself with the world when you are ready. My art was in a movie [White Water (2015)] and I could have never planned that for myself. Just keep working and honing your skills.
What excites you the most about the growth of Montgomery’s art scene, and how might we further these efforts throughout our community?
What excites me most is that there are more and more opportunities to show your work. Also, a community of artists is invaluable. I love having like-minded friends that I can bounce ideas off of, come to when I run into a creative problem, or for encouragement when I hit a block.