Arts Writing Artist Features

Cara Tomlinson

Cara Tomlinson. 2012 Individual Artist Fellow, Oregon Arts Commission.

Photo: Sabina Poole

Originally published January, 2012

Cara Tomlinson works in paint, drawing, sculpture, video and sound. A recent body of work finds Tomlinson responding to her own paintings with sculptural “supplements.” These are supplements in the sense of (hello, high school geometry!) the supplemental angle which completes the whole, not supplements in the Derridian sense. They are objects-plaster forms perched on rolling dollies-that combine the made and the readymade and are meant to be exhibited in proximity to their corresponding paintings, to engage in mute conversation. Other supplements she’s created have been boards piled with globs of paint (the detritus, perhaps, from her process of painting her more refined canvases), also on dollies, always movable, mutable.

For her 2004 installation, “Conversation Piece,” Tomlinson collaborated with ants to make a video (the tiny black marks of their bodies outlining and moving to and away from a slick form in the center of the frame) and related drawings.
In that instance, the ants stand in for the world external to the artist. “My recent work is really about tension between intention/knowledge and autopoesis/self-organization,”

Tomlinson says. As with the world at large, in her works, “the organization that comes out of process.” For Tomlinson, the strata built up on the surface of the work evince process, some of which will be hidden, some on view. She writes, “This process mimics the evolving self; the momentary resolutions that cover over all the other possibilities separating meaning from non-meaning, forming a narrative.”

Tomlinson grew up in Oregon, then moved away to study at Bennington and was gone for half of her adult life. She returned half a dozen years ago, and teaches at Lewis & Clark.

Courtesy of The Oregon Arts Commission.

Artist Credit: Cara Tomlinson

Exhibition: Oregon Arts Commission Fellows

Project Website

Oregon Arts Commission