JASPER: What are we going to be seeing from you at Artista Vista this year and where and when will we be seeing it?
KARA GUNTER: I have installed a work in the Lady St. tunnel in the Vista of six hanging, cocoon-like figures. All are a deep blue, human in form, with a light in each head that will glow brighter as the sun sets. The pieces are cast from a live model, and layered over with paper and adhesive. I call them Head Lamps. Artista Vista opens Thursday the 21st, and continues through the weekend.
JASPER: How does this fit into your ongoing body of work?
KARA: My work is always about Self, but specifically, I have been thinking a lot about the corporeality of the human body. I have dealt with a lot of nebulous health problems throughout my life –nothing life-threatening, but disruptive, and at times, scary-- I come out on the other end having learned something about myself, and who I want to be in this world. I always try to transform these times of suffering into some sort of evolution or integration of bigger feelings and ideas. The cocoon is a recurring symbol for me and obviously speaks of rebirth, of change, and personal and spiritual growth. I chose the tunnel to install in, as it is literally a passage from darkness into light. Great things happen in the dark—sleep, dreaming, healing, gestation, change, but it can also be a lonely and frustrating experience, and one in which waiting is the only course of action.
I’m also turning 40 this year, and having had the experience these past months of helping my father through a cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment, I feel as though I’ve “leveled up” as an adult, albeit, reluctantly. So, that evolution has also been on my mind—what awaits my post-40 self? I’m thinking it’s an intellectual shift that’s occurring, and that’s referenced in the glowing heads. Even though my body may not be as hearty as I wish, I feel as though I’m operating with the clearest, strongest, most creative mind I’ve ever had, and there’s something very rewarding about that. There’s also a bit of an inquiry posed to the viewer—will you come with me? In an era when emotions are ruling us (as seen in our social-political stances), I wonder if it’s not time to leave those childish things behind and let our intellect guide us from darkness. Time to grow up, in some respects!
JASPER: Is there a relationship between your Artista Vista work and the work you're showing at Artfields next week, and can you talk briefly about the similarities or differences?
KARA: There is definitely a similarity between the work I’m showing at Artfields and Artista Vista. Stylistically, they are a bit different, but they both utilize the human figure, and both speak to the fragility of the human body. Rising In Falling, the installation at Artfields is more pointedly about death and dying. Those figures are in a freefall, but can also appear to be floating gently by paper parasols, so perhaps they are floating instead of plummeting. I leave the interpretation up to the viewer, and the viewers’ own associations with the process of living or dying. I wanted to depict the inevitability of the cycle of death and rebirth, and the dependency of life on death itself. The bottom figure in the installation is holding a skull, and out of it pours flowers and fruits.
JASPER: What are the challenges of installing art in a tunnel?
KARA: Working out a way to hang the figures in the tunnel was a bit of a challenge, and I had to revamp my original vision several times. There are large niches in the wall where it seems as if the mortar has crumbled away from the bricks over time, and because I didn’t want to put bolt holes in the stone or mortar, it became apparent this was the only way to hang the forms. The overall installation was dictated by these niches, and I really had no idea what the layout was going to be until installation.
The wind blows pretty swiftly through the tunnel, and I was worried about this until I saw the figures swaying in the wind. I really like this unexpected development as it brings life to the figures, and at the same time, a loneliness and eeriness.
I’m always a bit nervous about public installations. There is something about art being outside of the gallery setting, that the viewer feels more inclined to interact with the work. That’s not always a bad thing, and I suppose it can be a bit confusing because some works are meant to be interacted with. Because my work is often made of more fragile things (like paper), I sometimes find it all a bit nerve-wracking!
JASPER: Finally, what else are you excited about seeing at Artista vista this year?
KARA: Michaela Pilar Brown has curated this year’s installations, and I’m very excited to see what the other artists she’s chosen will be doing. I’ve been so busy with my work, I have no idea what to expect from everyone else, and I really look forward to the surprise!