In late 2021, Cara Jean Hall joined the team at Salt Lake City’s Art Access as their Communications and Digital Marketing Manager. After spending the first 15 years of her adult life raising four children, Hall had received her BA from the University of Houston before beginning her artistic career and moving her family to Utah. Two years later, she began her relationship with Art Access when they exhibited her painting series Grip: Conversational Portraits on Mental Health.
Like most of her work, the Grip series was figurative-based and highly narrative. The ten paintings portrayed the side effects of mental illness, depicting mental illness as a huge hand that engulfs the lives of its sufferers: as a weight pushing down on the heart; as a constant, tethered companion; as a disturbing, unwelcome bedfellow. “These kinds of paintings are ideas and mental visualizations that I have for quite some time before actually painting them,” she says of her narrative work. “When I finish painting them I find myself almost bored with the result because I’ve seen the painting so long in my mind.”
With her newest series, Nature Abstracted, Hall set out to deliberately disrupt her previous process. “With these paintings I have a loose idea of some elements of nature, generally color combinations, that I base the painting around but avoid planning too far ahead,” she says. These paintings might be inspired by a sycamore tree, the colors from an early fall hike, or a view of Mt. Olympus from near her Millcreek home. “The act of painting … becomes meditative and exploratory and it’s fascinating to me how the end result is a well-composed collection of subconscious choices.”
Nature Abstracted, comprising 6-8 large-scale paintings, will be on display at the Millcreek Community Library, 2266 E Evergreen Ave, Salt Lake City, UT 84109, for the month of February.
Hall can be followed on Facebook and Instagram @carajeanarts and more of her work can be seen www.carajeanarts.com
Every January we check in with Utah artists to see what the new year holds in store for them.