Wk4 – Artist Conversation – Carly Lake


Artist: Carly Lake

Exhibition: Closer

Media: Mixed-Media, Ink, Watercolor, Clay, Digital Media, Plywood, Thread, Acrylic

Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Dennis W. Dutzi Gallery

Website: carlylake.com

Instagram: @sea.lake

The talented Carly Lake is an undergraduate senior in the CSULB School of Art. Currently, she is working towards her BFA degree in Illustration and will be graduating this semester. Adding to the art degree, she is also minoring in American Indian Studies. In my opinion, Carly has a very down-to-earth personality as well as being easy to speak with about herself and other topics. This reflects her hobbies, which include camping and juggling when she isn’t working on another art exhibition. So far, Carly has worked on five separate art exhibitions, a large volume considering she hasn’t even finished college yet. I asked her how long each piece usually takes to create with no guess as to what range of time this would entail. She responded that it generally takes about 8 to 12 hours to start and finish each piece. What an amazing amount of time! This gallery has around 9 different pieces by Carly, with a variety of medias from clay to watercolor. She truly puts a commendable amount of effort into the work she does.


As you can see, the variety of Carly’s work is very broad. There are clay sculptures, hanging plywood boards, and ink illustrations. Although these medias differ greatly, they all share an abstract theme with recurring “community” patterns. Looking at the three pieces in the top row, they all center on abstract figures in what appears to be a circular huddle. Objects are placed in a circle facing the same direction, and whether they are pink human shadows or multi-colored roots, you feel a sense of community within the group. The first piece has eleven leaf-like beings showered in white strands, all in a circle. The second has what could be roots sticking out of the ground creating a large circle. The third has humanoid shadows facing outward while holding hands above a busy highway. Even the sculptures are all similarly human, clumped together as a group. The birdhouse painting has a woman sitting on a rocky circular plateau, and the nightstand has pictures of people on a circular table.

I believe Carly was heavily inspired by the American Indian Studies material from her minoring degree, taking to heart the communal aspects and values of Native American culture. Bringing in the Art Talk Discussion from this week, the cave paintings of Lascaux were very similar in feel and theme to many of Carly’s pieces. This makes sense, as her knowledge and fascination with Native American culture has inspired the art that we have seen in the Dennis W. Dutzi Gallery. The values of past tribal groups centered on cooperation and community, as well as the belief in the symbolic Circle of Life. This is what probably resonates within each of these pieces, the statement that we are all connected as the Native Americans believed. Carly said that her favorite piece was Clonal Realm (hanging plywood and clay sculpture), and that it was inspired by an actual forest where all of the trees are connected by the roots. This reminds me of the alien forest in the 2009 film Avatar, a movie based off of Native American culture, furthering my belief in her Native American influence.

This artist’s work really resonated with me due to the nature of its origin, and all of the things I have discussed about Native American culture during this week’s Art Talk. The cooperation-based societies of tribal people add a level of compassion and connection to the world that is relatively absent from most modern cultures. Carly Lake probably understood this from her classes in American Indian Studies and felt compelled to add it back in through her art. A little extra compassion and connection to those around us wouldn’t be too much of a burden to bear.



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