ARTIST Q & A : CARA BARER
1) There is a story about your initial inspiration deriving from a forgotten yellow pages on the curb. How do you continue to derive ideas from found objects and your surroundings?
I am continually collecting old books, un-wanted books, phone books, periodicals, newspapers, mail order catalogs and used envelopes. There is always something new that appears that will spark an idea. After I’ve completed a new body of work, I’ll take a break, clean out the studio, and start collecting again.
2) When you are considering a book, or some other printed material for a new piece, what formal characteristics factor into your decision?
I prefer to compose most of my images within a square, which is classical in photography. I like symmetry and balance most of the time and often I weight the image from the center. A circle in a square is a favorite beginning.
3) Do you begin sculpting with an idea of how you want the final piece to take form, or is there a different process involved?
Much of the time I don’t begin with a clear idea of how the final image will be. I like to move the pages around, wet parts of the book, and use different media such as dye and watercolor. As I manipulate the pages I can start to see what I think will work.
4) What is the most indispensable item in your studio?
It would be hard to choose only one thing that I consider indispensable. One thing for sure - air conditioning! My first studio did not have that and living in Houston makes it essential. If I’m thinking about being hot I can’t think about the work. Of course I use a computer, but if I didn’t have an excellent print making set up I wouldn’t be able to proof until I’m satisfied with the final image. For me that is really important. I have to print at the full size before I can send them off to be printed by a lab.
5) Once your sculptures are complete and you have translated them to a print, what becomes of them?
I’ve been saving most of the sculptures after I’m finished. Some I can’t save because they have fallen apart.
6) You have an incredible instagram feed that depicts your work, as well as your experiences travelling the world. How do your artistic practice and travel experiences inform each other?
I’ve always liked to travel. I find it inspiring to see new places and different cultures. For example, India is a visual overload of color, patterns, print and textures. It is everywhere. Photographing just those elements led me to create “Namaste.”
7) Certain elements are consistent in your work, such as background colours the use of print materials, and yet each piece you create is completely unique. How do you adjust your process to give each piece distinct characteristics? What factors do you consider?
Each piece is unique, because each book is a new beginning. I start fresh every time with a different one. The quality and properties of the paper can vary a lot. Age, and the way the book is bound are also factors. Now that I’m also printing my own images and binding them into book form, the images are truly one of a kind. These hand made books have never been officially published and consist of my own personal photos. I have an almost infinite source of material as long as I keep traveling and photographing.