Buffalo, NY—Eleven Twenty Projects presents The City is Clean - a survey of works by Niagara Falls painter Jay Carrier spanning from 2005 to present.
Jay Carrier is a landscape artist—both in the traditional sense, where the natural world is depicted in rhapsodic fashion, but also in the interior sense, as an artist who often paints psychological terrain with verve and dynamic juxtapositions. His paintings reflect this duality of experience, as Native American living in the city of Niagara Falls and as someone deeply connected to that region’s physical landscape.
Using the Niagara Gorge as a focal point, his newest pieces reveal extended experimentations with found objects, a process that has long been a part of his practice. Carrier uses shell fragments, sand, and clay in his work and much of this material is reclaimed from the trails and shoreline of the Gorge. His connection to the land and his unique historical perspective allow him “the freedom to use any materials to attain the effect I need. These materials are objects that are cast-off; detritus.” He mixes found objects with other organic materials such as ash, rust, leaves, and wood. Carrier then combines these with traditional materials like oil paint, graphite and chalk. According to curator Michael Kudela, “Carrier also draws us through an experience of art that is precious precisely because it involves the everyday. It refocuses our attention to the timeless quality of the ordinary object. This is one of Carriers’ unique gifts, the combination of technical ability and the introduction of the informal, with an honest, insouciant gesture.”
Carrier’s philosophy on painting is informed by personal and historical influences that are rich and diverse. While Native influences and symbolism are present in Carrier’s work, their meaning is not readily obvious. Juxtaposing universal symbols encourages debate and analysis of western historical interpretation versus those of indigenous cultures. According to Carrier, “The dichotomy of these opposing societies constantly clash, intermingle and become one throughout the making of my art.”His work is decidedly apolitical, but due to the unresolved nature of the Native American experience, one cannot miss the social undertones in Carrier’s work. As such, his practice as an artist may be unresolved as well. Carrier is restless, constantly making new work and always advancing his vision.
In Carrier’s large scale, collage inspired psychological landscapes, the written word becomes important as a communication device. Text is a signifier to propel images and metaphors into directions of random poetry. Many of these works are actually painted collage—both literally but also used in a cultural manner, taking metaphors and images from popular culture and arranging them in unfamiliar, at times shocking, context. “My history as a Native person growing up in a small city and as a contemporary man are underlying themes…” “like eating cornflakes at my grandfathers breakfast table before Longhouse”, or “watching a lacrosse game sitting on top of a 68 Chrysler.”
The works presented in this exhibition cut an admittedly short path through a long and prodigious career. Carrier has been an enormously prolific artist, maintaining his studio practice across three decades and the breadth of that work is evident in his fluid manner of expression. From his diverse choice of subject matter and imagery—from natural to Native to personal to pop cultural—and his broad application of those images in a wide variety of painting and mixed media approaches is evidence of his fluency of thought and expression
ABOUT THE ARTIST:
Jay Carrier is a visual artist born on Six Nations to Onondaga and Tuscarora parents, who currently lives and works in Niagara Falls, NY and holds a BFA from the University of Illinois-Champlain. Carrier studied painting at The College of Santa Fe, New Mexico as well as participating in the MFA program from the University of Illinois. Carrier has exhibited in many solo and group exhibitions including Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, Buffalo, NY, The Castellani Art Museum, Niagara Falls, NY, The Wheelwright Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico, The Institute of American Indian Arts Museum, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Fenimore House Museum, Cooperstown, New York, Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo, New York, Woodland Cultural Center Museum, Brantford, Ontario, Canada, Chautauqua Center for Visual Arts Gallery, Chautauqua, New York and the Everson Museum in Syracuse, New York. His work can be found in numerous private and public collections.
ABOUT ELEVEN TWENTY PROJECTS:
Founded in 2013, a modern and contemporary arts initiative, located on Buffalo’s Main Street adjacent to the medical campus, Eleven Twenty Projects intermixes art, history, and material culture with a diverse approach and independent vision.