"From the beginning, a passion for painting and a drive to communicate with visuals have led me to be an artist. My belief that our personal histories are built by the layering of our lives and an attraction to surface have also been stimulus for my art work. My interest in the feminine started in childhood playing at my grandmother’s vanity with lipsticks, gloves, and calling cards; drinking tea from demitasse cups; flipping through vintage magazines; and stitching with colorful threads. Enamored, I set forth in life imaging the past, craving being feminine, and cherishing these things beyond belief.
As an artist, I am motivated to respond to events by composing works of art which highlight sentiments related to them. Take one’s approach to her dressing table or wardrobe – observation suggests that the journey may be poignant as emotions like the pleasure of feeling pretty; the pain of feeling ugly; the guilt of wanting; and the freedom that comes with accepting oneself, may become palpable. Moreover, the expressive, personal aspect to attire involving fantasy and memory fascinates me. Blending these stimuli, I choose to create with paint, objects, and garments. Textiles get dismantled so I can compose with their shapes and textures. There is much fulfillment in the process of deconstruction followed by mending or piecing back together and this method enables me to remember experiences, reshape moods, and reveal intimate feelings. In a collision of inner and outer surfaces, clothes are turned inside out and what has been against my person when worn is exposed, vulnerable. Illuminating vulnerability, my intent is to encourage viewers to open to their secrets and establish inner strength. These works of art serve as a visual demonstration of my decision to find satisfaction in becoming and my commitment to empower others to do the same."
LIFE IN THE GARMENTS, 2020 Curatorial Exhibit Descriptor
LIFE IN THE GARMENTS is a collection of paintings on canvases made of assemblaged garment pieces and textile remnants that display poetic narratives of life and the human condition. The series in this body of work address what’s at the core of humanity – individual evolution and empowerment.
It’s this deeper study that drives Rust’s desire to illuminate vulnerability and portray it as a source of strength. To elicit this, the basis of Punk fashion design is activated through a process involving the deconstruction of clothing to create low-relief grounds for paint application. Injury, even strokes of force, like ripping apart garments is followed by liberating mending acts like patching-up details to create real models of beauty, based upon something damaged, in which the wearer is in control. These works exhibit the way we dismantle life-experiences then piece them back together again to harmoniously reshape ourselves, as we move closer to becoming.
Rust does not stop there, on this journey towards authenticity, these works of art present yet another thesis to viewers. The layers of textiles and paint synthesize a metaphor for surface when inner and outer surfaces collide. In a poetic twist what normally lies outside when worn, clothing, turns inside when it goes beneath the painted exterior. By going below the paint, garments absorb new identities and advancing the narrative, Rust exposes her internal feelings allowing them to rest in the open-air depicted in paint on the surface. These works stimulate insight as viewers are asked to peer into crevices of garments coaxed from her wardrobe. Bravely, Rust unmasks her own vulnerability by using well-worn personal attire, disclosing her trepidation to reveal private moments. As a demonstration of strength through softness, the marriage of these concepts personifies the duality of a contemporary form of beauty through work that is both personal and universal.
APPROACHING THE DRESSING TABLE, 2015-2019 Curatorial Exhibit Descriptor
Caroline Rust created APPROACHING THE DRESSING TABLE, a series of oil paintings on canvases made of garments and oil paintings on wall sculptures with assemblage that display poetic narratives of life, individual evolution, and empowerment. As the artist is inspired by historic research, personal experiences, and travel, the exhibit embodies art works that support her admiration for courageous females; study couture and clothing’s psychological impact; symbolize intricacies of femininity; and portray the power of place. Emerging is a visual dialogue which ponders assorted perspectives many of us have on vulnerability and strength, ambition and humility, beauty and ugliness.
Rust describes the relationship between a person’s guise and human emotion through work that is both personal and universal. The exhibition not only becomes a metaphor for the way, at our dressing tables, we build ourselves in acts of preparation, even protection; but it also investigates the personal ways we either divulge or guard aspects of ourselves and juxtaposing reactions we face there. At the looking glass, one may embrace joy and feel free, whereas, others may dread perfection and feel overwhelm. Still, particular objects or tools on our vanity surfaces can tell a story or describe our character.
Employing a veneer of charming vanities and clothing, Rust’s works evoke insight and empathy as viewers are asked to peer into the private spaces of a woman’s boudoir and the intimate crevices of feminine garments she has coaxed from her wardrobe and vintage collection. Yet, for some the delicate experience may elicit an uneasiness, thus exemplifying femininity’s ambiguity. Furthermore, painting on well-worn personal garments and undergarments unmasks the artist to viewers with an allegory for the notion of surface. What normally lies outside when worn, clothing, turns inside when it goes beneath the painted surface. And internal feelings lie outside when depicted upon the painted surface. Bravely, Rust shares her trepidation associated with revealing private moments, while acknowledging how one may suffer unease baring personal feelings, thoughts at one’s core.
By presenting these metaphoric experiences within the safety of the gallery, Rust creates a space for viewers (especially the feminine) to contemplate being themselves and gain encouragement to shed the masks with the hard-angles, and consequently reveal vulnerability. Thus, turning it into a source of strength and inward power. The conglomeration of the works in APPROACHING THE DRESSING TABLE affords viewers an opportunity to accompany Rust on her mission to tackle her anxiety and our universal mission to find pleasure in becoming. What transcends is a better understanding of the universal feminine and the need for a resilient sense of self. One may even be moved to declare, “I thought I was the only one who felt like that.”
THE TINTS THAT GLOW & STANDING IN THE SILENT POOL, 2012-2014 Curatorial Exhibit Descriptor
The exhibition projects entitled THE TINTS THAT GLOW and STANDING IN THE SILENT POOL embody artworks that study women’s effects and practices as a means of investigation – primarily into self-image, self-worth, appearance and their impact upon presentation and one’s being. This body of work allows viewers to re-examine femininity in a fresh way. Interested in the paths of women, my goal is to deepen the public's perception of women and to encourage observers to reflect upon the journeys of women. By applying the force of imagination, participants are invited to have emotional contact with the objects in each installation and series; to experience them as characters, and to apply life, spirit to them. These belongings have history and a right to life. By placing significant items which play part in women’s lives in the limelight, a new landscape is shared; offering a different type of history – inner worlds juxtaposed to belongings.