A trip to even the best art museum is inspiring, but it doesn’t take long to notice a lot of the same iconography reoccurring frequently. Sweet Baby Jesus has been painted millions of times over, as have many other deities and religious narratives – and the content swiftly becomes redundant. What if you could mash up the best parts of your favorite art and make your own story? This is one of the core sources of inspiration for the paintings of Carrie Ann Baade: known for her teary-eyed goddesses and seductive imagery lush with historical reference, but not so enigmatic that one requires an art history degree to decipher them.
Ripe with allegorical references inspired by literature, philosophy, and art history, Carrie rejuvenates time-old tales in unexpected ways. Each painting begins as a collage, packing as much content as possible into a single image. Contemporary photographs are mixed with art historical references, ranging from illuminated manuscript eyes and Renaissance sculpture, as well as nods to the artwork of Caravaggio, Francis Bacon, Joseph Beuys, and Goya, among many others. Once the collage’s “first draft” is completed, Carrie sketches out the concept and fills in any blank areas to tie the visual together, and then begins painting.
While earning her Master’s in Painting from the University of Delaware, Carrie expanded her knowledge of materials and techniques under the guidance of professors of art conservation. As such, she has an affinity for using the techniques of the old masters, including egg tempera, gilt, and indirect oil glazing. A single painting can sometimes take upwards of 150 hours to complete…but the lush details are worth every minute.
Much of her work is autobiographical, with personal experiences layered into the broader story being conveyed. She found that the more personal she made the narratives within her artwork, the more viewers related to the intensity and passion within them. “Pain is intimate,” Carrie stated recently on her Facebook page – and there is nothing more identifiable than having experienced the pain of another. There have been several instances where couples have approached her to tell her that their relationship embodies The Happy Whore of Babylon and the Anti-Christ – a painting portraying the “fatalistic love between otherwise unredeemable characters.” Other topics include the tragedies of a shallow dating pool, damage done by gossip, the death of a relationship, and how the world would be if God was a woman.
“Art has the potential to narrate and be cathartic in the telling of something that would otherwise be unspeakable or incriminating.”
One of my favorite paintings of Carrie’s is The Angel of Paradox: Suck My Clit Georg Baselitz. The image is ripe with symbolism that changes based on the orientation of the painting (some of the contents are painted upside-down). Intertwined disembodied legs raise above (or below?) a lush garden luncheon with several men and a woman in Victorian dress. This formal setting is immediately juxtaposed with anatomical male anatomy crowned with a crocodile eye and flanked by female sentinels. The painting’s secondary title references statements made by German artist Georg Baselitz that women are inferior artists and “lack ambition.”
Carrie teaches as an Associate Professor of Painting and Drawing at Florida State University (FSU), with a goal to enhance the qualitative existence of humankind through her teaching. As she mentioned in an interview with High Fructose in 2009:
“If [teaching] leads to an understanding and enrichment in our culture and the human condition, then this is a pretty cool job. If I help a student realize their goal of being a professional artist, this is all the sweeter. I promised myself years ago that I must quit if I ever lose the ability to connect to the students. It is important to be a power for good.”
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some young women who studied under Carrie at FSU, and she has definitely made a positive mark on her students – they are passionate and aggressively creating, and beginning to take the art world by storm. So, while I will say that Georg’s commentary on women being “inferior” is a pretty dick allegation, trust me when I say that the patriarchy will fall – women artists like Carrie are on the rise, and for that, I am thankful.
All artwork © Carrie Ann Baade.