Lindey Carter, currently showing her work at Phillips Gallery, is one of the gallery director’s happy discoveries. Meri DeCaria came across Carter’s watercolors at the Ogden Farmer’s Market one day and knew she wanted to represent her work.
Carter, the triple great-granddaughter of pioneer artist C.C.A. Christensen, grew up in Kaysville, Utah in a large family and with a passion for art. She could often be found alone her room drawing rather than playing outside with her brother and five sisters.
Most of Carter’s paintings are small, measuring a mere five inches square. They are in watercolor painted on gessoed masonite. Carter uses a subtractive method in which she rewets the paint and pulls it from the surface, allowing the grainy quality of the paint and happy accidents to enliven her work. They are surprisingly simple little pieces, which is probably what initially intrigues the viewer. They may be simple, but titles such as “Even in Sadness,” “Strange Potential” and “Provincial Irony” tease the viewer to look deeper and uncover a more meaningful content.
When the time demands of being an art major at Weber State University interfered with Carter’s need to care for her newborn baby, she decided to take upper division English courses to fill her graduation requirements. This allowed her to stay home and also opened her eyes to the strong connection between art and literature. “I love to read and I have found that Henry James, Willa Cather or Stephen Crane are as good at curing artist block as Picasso, Gauguin, Renoir or any of the masters of art.” She explains that this strong connection with literature is probably why many of her paintings are overly simplified and often symbolic.
Trees are a common symbol used by Carter. “A professor of mine once told me that trees are a metaphor for that which connects heaven with the earth. I later realized he was talking about all of us. Every time we dig our toes into the mud or dance with our arms waving free, I think of that part of us where heaven and earth collide.”
It is clear that serenity and simplicity is what Carter craves. She says each of her paintings is really a “snapshot of a larger picture.” Studying the details of something larger and more complicated is her way of making sense of the chaos that surrounds her.
Carter’s watercolors will be on display at Phillips Gallery in a two-person show with Thomas Howard through March 10th.
This article originally appeared in the March 2006 edition of 15 Bytes.