“I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love making things,” says Carrie Gillen. “Once my interest was sparked, it never really stopped.” Gillen first found her love for crafting when she was a little girl. Her grandmother was a figurative oil painter, and Gillen began painting on a real canvas with quality equipment at a young age. Though she always fostered this love for art, she struggled at first to realize it as a full-time practice: “In college, I had a brief foray into the world of advertising. I was trying to pick a more practical plan where I could apply my creativity. Turns out, I was just a lousy ad person.”
After college, Carrie wore many hats. Her determination to piece together a self-sustaining income eventually found her in a coffee shop in St. Louis, where she made gelato for nearly seven years. “Making gelato gave me the flexibility to put together my first solo show, apply to graduate school, complete my Masters in Fine Arts and finally take the leap toward becoming a full-time artist.”
Now, she works primarily in three different mediums: fabric compositions, sculpture installations and sheetrock excavations. “The fabric compositions are really where my practice started,” Gillen explains. “I started exploring different techniques that would make my canvases more three dimensional as an undergraduate, which led to using fabric.”
Though she sees her fabric compositions as their own form of sculpture, she also works with sculpture meant to seamlessly incorporate itself into homes. These installations, Gillen explains, draw people into a given space and consider their own bodies next to, or inside, the art.
“I became fascinated with the amount of time we spend in our homes specifically; how our homes are such an essential part of our health and well being, but also how they are wrapped up in the worlds of real estate speculation, design and identity.”
Gillen begins her work by considering the material she will be using that day. Because each work of art is so different, her process is always changing and evolving. The materials she uses for sculptures and installations are those we find in our own homes, such as sheetrock, various tiles and wallpaper. By using these everyday items, she hopes to create conversations not only about the artwork but about the unique relationship everyone has with the notion of home.
Gillen feels very passionately that art should fit into each person’s home; that is, she knows that every home is different from the one next to it. “I think the reality of many homes is starkly different from those in design magazines,” she comments. “They can be messy and complicated and still be beautiful.”
Gillen’s work is next to none with a signature look that will complement any home and style. Her attention to detail encapsulates the messy and beautiful homes that we live in every day. “Maybe artwork can be that free space in our homes, where anything goes, not because it works or matches, but because it’s important or just because we love it.”
If you want some of Carrie Gillen’s artwork in your home, she sells most of her work directly through her website at carriegillen.com.