Virginia Carstarphen

While in college I discovered the writings of American geographer John Wright who coined the term “geopiety:” geo from the Greek for earth and piety from the Latin pietas meaning sense of duty of filial love. This word so perfectly expresses my love and sense of devotion to the places that have filled my life. The landscapes of Georgia, New England, Florida, and the Midwest; the waters of the Great Lakes, Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico all figure prominently in my work.

Although my work edges mostly on abstraction, I have always thought of myself as a landscape painter.  Artists like Helen Frankenthaler, Anselm Keifer, and Cy Twombly inspire me greatly. Through line, color, material and gesture I attempt to honor the landscapes that I am deeply attached to. These landscape explorations are filtered through both experience and memory. Imagination plays an important role as well.

At time these abstracted landscapes can be internal mappings of the human body on a cellular level – a way of finding myself in the world.  Other times they verge on more macrocosmic abstractions – a landscape as big as a galaxy.  Often they navigate the space in between. It is within that space that I find balance between destruction and renewal, entanglement and order.  I am concerned with environmental issues too and often use or refer to human waste, especially plastics, in my work as well as natural debris. Abstractions of coastal wracklines are recurring metaphors for such issues in my work.

BFA (Concentration in Drawing and Painting), summa cum laude, Georgia State University, 1993

MFA (Concentration in Drawing and Painting), School of the Art Institute of Chicago 1997

Virginia Carstarphen Website click here


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