We had the good fortune of connecting with Carol Prusa and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Carol, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I began college as a chemistry major, never having had an art course even in elementary school due to budget cuts in Chicago. I met someone studying visual art and realized I wouldn’t be truly educated if I didn’t know about it so I took a beginning drawing class at the University of Illinois. I found drawing so challenging that I was completely drawn in – it used my brain fully and that was exhilarating. I switched from per-med to medical illustration and after that degree realized I had no desire to work to make what someone else wanted. I appreciated that I was an artist and needed to make work with complete freedom so I went on and got an MFA in Painting and Drawing. I learned that every day I to wake up to new possibilities and need learn new things as an artist – it is a life I delight in although it requires tremendous dedication and rigor. I am fortunate along the way to found a passion for teaching other artists and doing that pays my bills and allows me complete freedom in the work I make. With interest in big theories that describe our universe, I seek to communicate what cannot be seen but felt; the vibrations that are part of us all, echoes from billions of years ago. My current creative research looks into the dark energy that connects us as one in the vastness of the cosmos. I look to science, particularly astrophysicists and cosmologists, for inspiration. I am curious how to penetrate emptiness and represent formlessness, while swimming in euphoria and dread; a boundless universe with no edge – no fixed point, through resonance.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
When I was young I would look out my bedroom window over my neighbors roof at the night sky and try to envision what there was before there was something. I want my art to reach out to feel and express that vastness and the overwhelming fecundity of life. Looking at the night sky leaves me breathless by sheer scale and beauty and what I do not yet know. At the boundary between the known and unknown is where I, as artist, share space with scientists. My work doesn’t need to make sense –it isn’t a story – freeing my lawless imagination to erupt and rupture introitus to new worlds as my mind shudders. I yearn to manifest a vision that takes into account chaotic interactions central to the evolution of the universe and distill its strange beauty. For me, ideas that expand our understanding of our universe, pushing limits of seeing, propel me forward in my work. I seek to give form to thin spaces that evoke the dark matter that both surrounds and binds us together. As Mary Oliver beautifully wrote in Upstream, “ Its (arts) concern is the edge, and the making of a form out of the formlessness that is beyond the edge.” I tell my students that making art is the hardest job you will ever love. It is that way for me. I work long hours and persist in making my work even when it sometimes feels like no one is interested. It requires rigorous discipline and passion. Making art allows me to live fully and I work on being fearless with it. Every day is a challenge to rise to what I know is within me to create and make work residing in the uneasy thin space between what I do and don’t yet know and the erotic dark energy threading us all.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
When people visit they are often artists so I plan basically three field trips. One is to Miami to visit the Rubell Museum, the Margulies Collection, the Institute of Contemporary Art-Miami and the Perez Art Museum – with lunch on the veranda of the Perez. The next day we venture north to the Norton Art Museum, hopefully on one of the days where they have free evening programming and we take a moment to grab a bite at their restaurant and walk the sculpture garden. And, finally a visit to the Boca Raton Museum of Art for an intimate art experience capped by a walk on the beach or at Yamato Scrub preserve and dinner eating outside at one of the restaurants near Mizner Park.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are so many texts and people that have informed my work and deserve credit but I give my “shoutout” to legendary gallerist Bernice Steinbaum. Early on she offered me advise and believed in me as an artist. Later she represented my work and sought opportunities for it. Once she told me I was an “artist’s artist” which I took as a deep complement – she was committed to my work even though it wasn’t an easy sale. Having that early affirmation has allowed me to push my work forward where it needs to go, supported by my amazing artist friends and scholars across disciplines.
Instagram: Carol Prusa
Facebook: Carol Prusa