small talk // artist caris reid

i recently discovered caris reid's work on instagram. she's a brooklyn based visual artist who also runs a curated collage workshop, in which she "soothes you with scissors" (@collagewithcaris). we sat down a few weeks ago at her studio in greenpoint and had a lovely chat about her paintings, spirituality and her recent residency in corsicana, texas. with metronomy's "love letters" playing in the background, i immediately learned that both caris and her work have an energy that is at once calming and intriguing. i have since attended one of her collage workshops and it was lovely. there's just something about caris that makes you appreciate the simple moments. more about caris below:

cultureisland: tell us more about you.

caris reid: i had a nomadic childhood, we lived in washington d.c, chicago, boston, austin, and dallas before i graduated high school, often living in multiple homes and attending multiple schools within each city. growing up, change was a constant, which may have played a role in cultivating my more introverted side, so did a lot of reading, drawing and painting: all solo activities. later, i went to art school in boston, and moved to ny straight after graduating. i've been here ever since.

cultureisland: what is your artistic process?

caris reid: my work deals with inner worlds: emotional, spiritual, and psychological. meditation has become a part of my process in the studio, it helps take me to the mental space needed to paint for hours. i've been working with a psychotherapist named andrea k. baum, who works with hypnosis, and together we co-designed a 20 minute guided meditation, inspired by the high priestess card in tarot, which i listen to before painting, to help get me into deeper states of consciousness. i've also been doing a lot of work with reiki and visualizations, working closely with a friend and reiki healer in joshua tree named kathrin smirke. my paintings themselves use water based paints, mostly acrylic, on wooden panels. my palette tends to be very saturated, with flat planes of color, and lots of repetition. in my most recent paintings, there's a lot of symmetry and undulating shapes.

cultureisland: can you tell us more about your recent work, water warrior?

caris reid: the water warriors are an archetypes for a powerful feminine energy, an energy that comes from a deeply intuitive place, that sees emotion as a strength rather than a weakness, that understands the power of compassion and of empathy, and uses wisdom to not only improve oneself, but others as well. and of course, the energy i'm capturing is that of a warrior, someone who is unbelievably strong. the energy is feminine, but i see it as existing in both men and women. we live in a very patriarchal society that places great value on more traditionally masculine attributes, which are incredibly vital, but need to be balanced. formally, the paintings work with symmetry, circular and undulating forms to create a very visually soothing space. the waves in her hair mimic the waves of her lips, as well as the water, and many of the designs on her chest.  this idea of a tattooed woman was inspired by an image i had seen years ago of a pictish warrior, covered in tattoos of flowers... it felt as though the psyche was imprinted on the flesh. 

cultureisland: and you recently did an artist residency in corsicana, texas -- how did the location affect the work?

caris reid: i just got back from a residency in corsicana, texas, where i had an enormous studio in a building built in 1898 that was originally owned by the oddfellow, an all male fraternity.  my actual studio was the room where their meetings were held, and i would sit on the podium at the end of the room, where i imagine the head officials must have stood during meetings, and start every day by meditating there. it felt very powerful. the room had these gorgeous arched widows that faced in three different directions, so the sun had a strong presence in the room, and rotated around the studio every day. in the evenings, as the sun would set, birds would travel from all over and land on the tree just outside where i painted. most days i would stop to watch the birds and the sunset. my days were filled with order, beauty and simplicity. it infused the paintings. i've been studying buddhist mandalas and making work for an upcoming show called "diamond seat" with amanda valdez at circuit 12. to be in such a focused and contemplative space was perfect for this body of work. the word "mandala" is a sanskrit word that means "essence" or "center" and all the paintings made there have very concentric, repetitive designs. the rhythm of my days mirrored the rhythms of the paintings. 

cultureisland: where do you find inspiration? who are some of your favorite artists?

caris reid: lately i've been really inspired by mandalas and tantric art, and from reiki and hypnosis. i'm deeply interested in the meeting point between the physical and the spiritual and ways in which i can actively control my mental state in order to affect the energy of the paintings.  my favorite artists are always changing, but not suprisingly, i've been drawn to those who use the spiritual as part of their subject. artists like  dorothy iannone, stephen muller, kenneth noland, and hilma af klint.

 caris reid // clarity. after claire. // acrylic on wood // 2015

caris reid // clarity. after claire. // acrylic on wood // 2015

cultureisland: what are your favorite places to see art in nyc/brooklyn?

caris reid: when i'm not in the studio i'm usually out seeing art. i try to see as much as i can and support as many artists as i can. there are galleries everywhere... the lower east side in particular has amazingly vibrant galleries: sargent's daughters (i was in a group show there this past summer), nicelle beauchene, denny gallery, lisa cooley, longhouse projects and james fuentes. in brooklyn there's interstate projects, cleopatra's, among others. i recently saw some amazing phillip taaffe paintings at luhring augustine's bushwick space, which is worth the trip. the space is enormous.

* check out more of caris's work here and follow her on instagram here *