We had the good fortune of connecting with Caroline Golden and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Caroline, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I have asked myself this very same question! I often wonder if my artistic side hadn’t been such a pull, what other possible career I would have chosen. As a small child, I was continually drawing. I recall the very first time opening a box of sixty-four Crayola Crayons, an army of colors and possibilities just waiting for my command! After filling one coloring book after another, wearing those crayons down to a nub, I moved on to whatever blank notebooks were available to me. In fact, I still have one of those notebooks on the shelf next to me as I do this interview! Pretending I was an author, I filled page after page of drawings with accompanying stories. How I wish I could read my pre-school aged scribbles! My parents had the foresight to enroll me in weekend art lessons. I was six years old, and on the very first day upon entering the building, I saw adults teaching art and others busy creating. They wore paint smeared smocks, their fingernails embedded with color, swirling around me was the scent of linseed oil and the sense of serious creative industry. Awakened I felt as though I had found my true home. My creative impulses carried me through my childhood and teenage years. The act of artistic creation never lost its magic or pull. It provided a place of escape and possibility. I entered college as a business major as it seemed like the sensible thing to do. It was mid-semester freshman year when I realized I had to prioritize my creative passion! Before graduating with a BA in Studio Art, I rounded out my studies with several years of internships working for small advertising agencies in New York City. After graduation, I worked as a graphic designer and art director for many years in advertising and publishing. Most of my early career was spent as a freelance designer, which taught me to think on my feet and say “yes” to an assortment of opportunities. During my years as a paste-up and mechanical artist, before computers, I learned to work with paper and adhesives of all types and mastered the X-acto knife honing my skills for the multi-layered and dimensional paper collages I create today. Looking back, I am grateful I allowed myself to follow that “pull.” Or, perhaps in reality I had little choice in the matter!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My becoming a collage artist grew out of a challenging time in my life. In my early thirties, I had emergency surgery that laid me up for several weeks at home. Before the surgery, I was busy as a freelance designer and enjoyed an active social life in NYC. Suddenly there I was unable to leave my apartment. Friends brought in food and magazines for me to keep me nourished and occupied. One afternoon I took a pair of scissors to the pile of magazines, cutting out images that mirrored my feelings at the time. I began assembling those images as collage and the rest, as they say, is history! A few years later, after a very dear friend passed away from AIDS, I created another series channeling my loss. That series became my first solo show in a Soho gallery. I still hand cut all my imagery and I do not use the computer in my work. I now look to create miniature stages of illusion in my collages, portals into an enchanted elsewhere—the stepping stones into these surreal worlds are drawn from fables, fairytales, and Alice and Wonderland. My studio is filled with hundreds of magazines, antique books, and vintage ephemera. I have tiny file drawers filled with images previously cut but not used. I have drawers dedicated to eyes, hands, torsos, and feet. I even have a drawer labeled “This and That!” The hunt for imagery is often as exciting as creating the work itself. My collages can take weeks to complete as I have created my own way of assembling them. Once all the pieces have been found and gathered, I meticulously cut every image and mount each piece onto archival paper. This allows me to further shape and work with the impression of depth. I then paint around each mounted image to cover the white paper edges so as not to spoil the illusion of peering into another world. The greatest challenge for me was genuinely embracing both the medium of collage and my inspiration. When I found myself focusing on fairytales some 25 years ago, I was almost embarrassed to admit to it. Investigating these beloved and incredible narratives again as an adult has given me an intriguing lens by which to view life. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
One person that springs immediately to mind is the poet and biographer Molly Peacock. I came upon her memoir some twenty years ago when I struggled with the decision to dedicate myself to my work thoroughly. While standing in a book shop in front of the Woman’s Studies section, I actually said out loud, “there must be someone who has felt this way!” As soon as these words were barely out of my mouth, I spotted Molly’s book, ‘Paradise, Piece by Piece.’ I read the first paragraph of the inside flap and ran immediately to the cashier. Over the years, I have taken several poetry classes with Molly and now not only have a deep love of poetry but a friend as well. I am forever grateful to her for sharing her story. I have learned the value of surrounding myself with other like-minded creative souls. Another big shout out goes to those who share this comradery with their curiosity, generosity, and support. They have set an example for me to follow and have taught me to tap into these ideals within myself so that I may share them with others. For nearly two decades I have been a member of The New York Artist Circle, a large group of visual artists who share business opportunities and support. It has been a wonderful community here in NYC. https://nyartistscircle.com And of course, I must mention my husband, Alan, who has been a source of never-ending support of me and my work. He is also an excellent editor when I need one and an accomplished and able art schlepper!