Artist Caroline Rust believes in the transformative power of art. She has an eloquent vision which derives from her passion for painting, respect for women’s history, and interest in fashion design and textiles. Described as a 'painter's painter', with impressive skill Rust saturates her surfaces made of garments mounted to wood with layers of expressionistic color. In a synthesis of emotion and intellect, Rust’s works of art use the dressing table and wardrobe in metaphor to reflect aspects of the feminine and explore identity. Viewers discover layers of nuanced meaning and observe the complexity of surface both literally and figuratively.
"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. When working, I am sensitively engrossed in the act of creating while simultaneously channeling my source of inspiration, be it person, place, or thing. I hope these psychological and tangible components found in my work elicit compassion viewers; especially concerning the internal lives (landscapes) of women. 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."
"Approaching the Dressing Table" Descriptor
Caroline Rust has 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.”
“Between the Crevices” Descriptor
“Between the Crevices” is a portfolio embodying several series of oil paintings on low-relief garment canvases which display poetic narratives of individual evolution, empowerment, and atmosphere. Series included: Fashion Memories ₁, Chasing Her Corsage ₂, The Three Laces ₃. While Rust is inspired by historic research, personal experiences, and travel, the art works support her admiration for couture design; symbolize intricacies of femininity; and at times portray the power of place. Emerging is a visual discourse on beauty, vulnerability, and identity.
Employing her love of textiles as a backbone to subject matter that often brings pleasure and satisfaction (sweets and landscapes), Rust describes the relationship between a person’s guise and human emotion in work that is both personal and universal. Taking a responsive stance concerning the psychology of fashion and the relationships one has with one’s wardrobe contents, the artist explores how wearing some clothing can make one feel. She investigates how garment choices portray facets of personality and the personal ways attire is used to divulge aspects of self expressively. Her works of art at times envision fantasies or memories one may have regarding wearing particular apparel, at certain places.
While capturing romantic, even sensual, remembrances or the essence of a place seems to come first in Rust’s compositions, with deeper study we see a profound thesis take shape. The layers of textiles and paint synthesize an allegory for the concept of surface when recognizable clothing goes below the painted imagery to absorb new identities. The work exhibits the way we dismantle life-experiences then piece them back together again to reshape ourselves, as we move closer to becoming. Furthermore, by marrying the gist of The Velveteen Rabbit with the basis of Punk fashion design, the artist takes injury (as with ripping apart garments) and mending (as with patching up torn garments) to create “new and real ideals of beauty” laced with both softness and strength, thus exemplifying femininity’s ambiguity.
Rust’s work evokes insight as viewers are asked to peer into the private, intimate spaces of apparel she has coaxed from her wardrobe and vintage collection. For some the delicate experience may elicit an uneasiness; just as it does for the artist. By painting on well-worn personal garments and undergarments she unmasks herself to viewers. Turning clothing inside out and outside in, internal feelings turn to the outside when depicted, with paint, on the surface of the clothes. Bravely, Rust shares her trepidation of revealing private moments and baring personal feelings.
₁. Fashion Memories (Inspired by travel memories, Rust activates blouses, chemises, even lingerie from her wardrobe to poetically explore the principals of mood and atmosphere by capturing the essence of a place one work at a time. Just as wearing certain apparel can influence its wearer, the vignettes either invite us to romantic remembrances or invoke fantasies, transporting us to distant moments in time or faraway lands.)
₂. Chasing Her Corsage (Accenting fantasies of travels and dress, clothing’s impact upon the wearer is allegorically emulated thru marrying camisoles with sweets poised on their bodices like a corsage. To wear a silk camisole is a pleasurable, satisfying experience that has the power to generate feelings of beauty and empowerment. Not only that, painting upon silk’s smooth texture and eating confections are equally lush. The cake with feminine attire mix evokes reflection upon self-image and there is a suggested harmonious, joyful welcoming embrace of self-esteem, temptation, and sensuality.)
₃. The Three Laces (Abstracted, sketch-like works made of fabric remnants extracted from garments in Rust’s wardrobe and vintage collection, which blend her love of textiles and the tactile experiences with painting to facilitate the observation of clothing features like lace edging, seams, straps, fasteners. Their smallness and familiarity make them seductive to the artist. New ideals of beauty are revealed at the conclusion of the deconstruction, then mending process.