Jennifer Gillia Cutshall
Inside A Generous Kingdom V: A Mad Hatter Tea Party with artist Caroline Bacher
"It’s very much about the inner landscape, and I feel that this vast and fertile terrain is very much a part of the generous kingdom that is consciousness."
How does your work interact with the theme of “A Generous Kingdom V: Art that Explores Story, Symbolism, and Beyond”?
This show’s title, A Generous Kingdom, is so wonderfully rich and evocative! I love how each work included echoes it a little differently within the cohesiveness of the show.
My work centers heavily around mythology, the psyche, and various aspects of the Self as seen thru a symbolic and metaphorical lens. It’s very much about the inner landscape, and I feel that this vast and fertile terrain is very much a part of the generous kingdom that is consciousness.
Does the idea of transformation influence your work and process?
Most definitely! Acclaimed writer and occultist, Alan Moore, likens the artist to a wizard, “Art is, like magic, the science of manipulating symbols, words, or images to achieve changes in
This really resonates with me—taking basic tools such as paint, pencils, clay, words, and transforming them into something that has the ability to not only communicate but to resonate with and inspire others, is extraordinary powerful.
What draws you to the medium you chose? And tell us a little about your process (I don’t believe in giving it all away).
I majored in Sculpture at The Ontario College of Art & Design, and ultimately went on to have a career in the jewelry industry, designing, creating and selling jewelry, which I love.
It’s a special feeling to work with precious metals and gems to create wearable art, but I’m attracted to drawing and painting as it’s such a great platform for story-telling, which is very important to my expression.
Most of my paintings are a mix of acrylic, colored pencil and pencil, and I find this trio works really well together and for me—the combo gives me a range of textures and opacities and allows me to get some really fine detail too. I have a special fondness for colored pencil and pencil as I spent many hours creating with them as a child, so I feel that there is a sentimental and symbolic thread that connects my childhood to my adult life in continuing to use them.
I still have my pencil from first grade in my art box! At my best, I’m constantly inspired by everyday life—books, people, beautiful plants and unique buildings, emotions I’m working thru, etc. all feed my process. It really doesn’t take much for me to be in the mood to create something! Sometimes I’ll have an idea straight out of the gate, but other times, I’ll begin with an element or two and let chance guide me. I love sleep and restful contemplation—a lot of people will say napping is a waste of time, but for me, it can be a powerful problem-solver. If I find I’m struggling to find a solution for something a resolution almost always presents itself after a good rest.
If you could have coffee or tea with any artist who would you pick? What would you have coffee or tea? What would you ask that artist?
There are so many inspiring artists from so many perspectives and eras! I can totally envision a Mad Hatter tea party with so many of them! If I had to choose just one,
I’d have to go with a childhood favorite, Leonardo Da Vinci. Who knows what he would think of Caroline Bacher in 2020, but his story as a gay, illegitimate son of a nobleman, is very interesting in so many ways. It goes without saying that he was leagues ahead of his time, but he was insatiably curious about so many things, and saw the interconnectedness of everything. We tend to think of him as a genius, which he undoubtedly was, but he was foremost a brilliant observer, and that underrated trait led him to excel in so many fields. His work and studies revealed so much, yet there is so much delicious mystery surrounding him as well...I can only imagine!
What do you hope your work achieves, in general, and/or specifically with this exhibition?
Making art is very therapeutic for me—I liken it to downloading, or digesting, life. I create mostly for myself, but it’s very special when my work resonates with someone else—there’s a marvelous spark when that happens. Discovering an intriguing piece of art is very much like making a friend, so just like a conversation with an interesting person, I hope that my work offers an interesting dialogue. I hope that my work offers answers, but also asks questions.
What recently made you smile?
Today is the Winter Solstice, a time of contemplation and celebration for me. A difficult year for myself and many others across the globe draws to a close, but it was also productive and full of many realizations for me. I’ve smiled and cried a lot in 2020! Like my painting, Mythic, I’m honored that I have the chance to look to the night sky and see a very special conjunction
lighting the night tonight—something that people haven’t seen for 800 years. Our ancestors would have looked to something like this as a miracle, something magical and auspicious. And I believe that that is a very beautiful way of continuing to look at the world. Despite all of 2020’s difficulties, to me this is a very poignant time to be alive, and I’m so thankful for all of the wonders, big and small.