Artist Interview-Carmen McNall

Artist Interview-Carmen McNall

Carmen McNall 


January 3-February 2nd | 2020

Interview conducted by Katherine Whitlock

Carmen McNall is recreating the emotional evolution of a time, place, or phenomenon through symbolic patterns, lines, and bold color sequences. Her work emphasizes quiet moments of an experience whose impact, yet small and fleeting at times, affects the entire outcome. McNall’s ability to observe what occurs between these fragile lines serves the purpose of preserving specific traditions passed down from female generations. I had a chance to ask some questions about her work for her forthcoming group exhibition titled at La Luz De Jesus Gallery titled, I Saw You Post About It. 

Katherine Whitlock– Where did your sense of traditional crafting techniques arise?

Carmen McNall– Learning different printmaking techniques felt like learning an ancient secret that must be treated with care. When I discovered printmaking, I immediately fell in love with the intimacy of the process. It has its own language and endless details, and a lot of freedom in creating my own systems. I was never much of a technical printer, but I love connecting with the act of carving, etching or drawing on the different surfaces. It was less about the actual printing for me.

KW– Where does your inspiring color palette come from?

CM– I go through cycles with my colors, like the seasons, and become drawn to a certain color combination until I am pulled away into a different pallet. They’re often inspired by significant items I have accumulated. The colors act as a language together with the patterns to convey the spirit of a place, person or moment.

KW– It sounds like you developed a language with the process. Can you describe this symbolic relationship with language during your printmaking process?

CM– There is a lot of honesty in woodcarving that I aim to carry over within my work– every mark I make is there forever and reveals the variation of the handmade. Mark-making is very important to me–I love the simplicity and boldness of working in black and white. I intend to show that every mark is made by hand. The patterns and colors I use are both personally and universally symbolic. They represent the essential elements of our environments. I like my world to combine these organic patterns and narrate the story of a people in context with their surroundings. 

KW– When you’re working, do you see a pattern first, or does the pattern form through your meditative work ethic?

CM– I create my compositions simultaneously with the patterns I design. Each pattern has its own meaning and nature that convey parallels between human connection and those found in our environments.

KW– What historical time period do you see yourself thriving in, and why?

CM– The time we are in right now is very important to me because I see it as a time for empowerment and change. My work often tells the story of strong inspiring women of today in the hopes of passing on their energy and qualities to the viewers. The future is now, there is no going back! Only moving forward.

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