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Martel Award 2018: Caroline Perkison

Caroline Perkison has been selected as the recipient of the nineteenth annual Marian and Speros Martel Award of the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. The Martel Award is given annually to a graduating senior chosen by the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston in consultation with the visual arts faculty at the senior’s high school. The selection criteria include: production of a significant and meritorious body of work during the senior year, plans to attend an accredited college, university, or art school, and exceptional promise in the visual arts and attendant professions.

Caroline Perkison is interested in exploring living parts of the past, such as old buildings and their interiors. Memories they evoke are both reminding and teaching. She sees these places in real life, in dreams and through stories. They are dreams of searching and confusion, and of bitter sweet memories that have become warped over time.  She searches for used objects that fit with these places (anything from small pieces of jewelry to knickknacks to forgotten papers to jewelry boxes)—and follows them to an idea for her works. She examines the sentimental value of these objects, exploring those both special and overlooked.

Perkison creates images of interior spaces through installation, sculpture, textiles, printmaking, painting, and photography. She focuses on making eerie and offsetting interiors of houses—or an aspect of a house—such as beds, TVs and rugs. She uses distorted shapes and angles, most commonly triangles—creating prints, paintings, textiles. These odd angles—anything straying from a standard ninety degrees make the viewer think of instability, and lack of control—like a warped floor, or walls caving in. Triangles have also taken the form of a dark green attic—a room Perkison made to represent both the exploration of old forgotten objects that will bring memories, as well as to capture the feelings of sadness and of being trapped, like in a nightmarish dream.

Symbols that often show up in Perkison’s work are eyes, jewelry boxes, holes, triangles, and doors. She repurposes materials that look worn as they come with stories to tell.  Perkison is interested in archways—as a spiritual door that allows one to pass to a different realm. Going up into an attic is almost like going into another world because the things up there are of the past. She brings this essence of finding into her work.

In her process, Perkison visits a lot of estate sales, garage sales, and thrift stores. She also use materials from around her house—such as remnants of childhood with specific memories attached to them. She uses deep colors and angled lines to create a dreamy and disorienting aura. Perkison strives for a muted and muffled; whimsical and forested; and fragile and nostalgic vibe.

About the Artist

Caroline Perkison is a current senior at the High School for Performing and Visual Arts Houston (HSPVA). She has graduated from the Saint Catherine’s Montessori school for Middle and Grammar school.  In the Summer of 2015, Perkison studied Film at the University of Houston. In the summer of 2016, she studied at the California College of the Arts Summer Program in Sculpture, and received a merit scholarship to attend. At the end of the 2016 summer program, she received the “return to pre-college “ scholarship.  Perkison returned to California College of the Arts in 2017 to study Alternative Photography. She received a merit scholarship from the HSPVA Junior Scholarship show to attend this program as well. At the end of the 2017 photography summer program, she received the “Creative Achievement Award.”

Perkison’s work has been in numerous shows around Houston, including at the Blaffer Art Museum, the Jung Center, many shows at HSPVA, including her senior show at HSPVA, and at the HSPVA Print Show. She has also exhibited at the Arts Schools Network, and twice at California College of the Arts in Oakland, California, both at the College Avenue Galler, and at the Oliver Art Center.

Perkison plans to attend either the University of Texas or California College of the Arts in the Fall to study Studio Art.