Cara Walz – Artist

Cara Walz lives and works in the Sonoran Desert in Southwestern USA and Mexico,  you can see her website at… and check out her blog at . Cara has been making art for about 10 years.

Are you currently represented by a gallery?
No, because I have to mark up the cost of the work too much to cover the gallery percentage. The gallerists I’ve worked with don’t really have an active base of buyers anyway. I do like to participate in interesting group shows at either commercial or not-for-profit spaces.


What are the main medium/s you work in…

drawing materials, collage, animation

Artist’s statement…

I work with a wide range of materials, but really, I’m always making some sort of drawing, even if its ?nal form is a video, installation or website. While I’m working I ?uctuate between a pull from my head and a pull from my heart. When my head’s in charge I tend to work on innovative structure and technical experimentation, like a scientist.

When my heart takes over I’m focused on meaning and expression, like a poet. I’m happiest when I find a balance between the two, probably because this is where our richest thoughts reside, but I cannot, or will not, control the outcome by purposefully favoring one over the other. The head and the heart both provide valuable insight and I never know which one might offer the best resolution of an idea.

How do you describe your work?

It ranges from pop/kitsch-influenced narrative to industrial/experimental weirdness.


What are you currently working on?
A series of colored ink & acrylic drawings influenced by emergence theory and some figures influenced by George Romero’s zombie films.

What fascinates you?
I saw my first wild tarantula this morning. I thought they all lived in plastic boxes.

Why are you an artist?
I can do three things: dance, draw and write. I made a choice to devote my life to the most difficult of the three. I’m a glutton for punishment.

How did you get into art?
I didn’t. It got into me.

How important is art for you?
It’s a pain in the ass, like a wayward child. I love it.

Was your education helpful, or a hindrance?
I don’t think art education creates artists, but I valued the history, culture and theory I learned. I also met a ton of interesting folks.


What did you do before or during becoming an artist?
I worked a long list of crappy jobs, toured a brief stint with a punk band, gave birth, stuff like that.

What is your earliest memory of art?
Sitting on a blanket in a ballet studio, watching legs and dirty ballet slippers fly by, feeling the wooden floor bounce beneath my butt in time with the music

Do you remember your first painting or artwork?
The first artwork I was proud of was an extreme doodle on the cover of a spiral notebook in junior high school.

Was art a “thing” that was encouraged in your family?
From my mother’s side of the family, yes; from my father’s side, I’d say they were neutral

What or who inspires your art?
Currently I’ve been obsessing on Twombly. Next month it will be someone (or something) else.


Was there a big turning point in your art journey that caused you to think that “it’s all worthwhile”, or “oh yeah I get it…”?
I get it, but I’m not yet convinced it’s all worthwhile.

What caused you to choose the medium you currently work in?
Ink is the first medium I worked with. As a child I constantly doodled with ballpoint pens, and I made linoleum block prints with my grandmother. Now I’m most fond of waterproof, fade-proof ink in bottles applied with a small round brush or a big flat streaky brush. Ink is the only medium that moves fast enough.

Have your artistic influences altered over time (e.g. artists.) ?
As soon as I see a work by someone I either love it or hate it, and I have absolutely no preference for a certain style. I very rarely change my mind about a picture or object I love.


What can you tell us about your planning and making process for making art, and has that altered over the years?

I really haven’t changed my process of making things over time at all. I always have more ideas than time to execute them, so during times of introspection I plan out a project, knowing full well I may or may not get to it. I have a running list, and I gravitate toward the project that seems most immediate or necessary. Some projects float around in my head or on paper half formed for months before they come together. Some projects pop into full fruition very easily. Some die on the vine. It’s always been this way.

I execute work based on the intent of a project, and so methods and mediums might change to suit this intent, but not a whole lot because no matter how experimental it appears to be I’m always making a drawing of some sort.

How important is the clarity of concept to you, prior to starting an artwork?
Sometimes it’s extremely important, sometimes not; I liken this to symphonic music vs. experimental jazz: both approaches are useful, depending on the project and intent.


Do you have a personal description of “Art”?
Cultural expression.

How important do you think craftsmanship is to artistic creation?
Craftsmanship can elevate some works and doom other works to mediocrity.

Does the sale of your work support you?
I’ve taught art and I’ve written about art and I’ve sold art to make money, but I wouldn’t recommend you do any of these things to live comfortably.


Some say the lifespan of many “artists” post educationally is about five years, any thoughts on that?
That’s simply due to the demands of living, paying the bills, especially if an artist decides to have children. If a person completely gives it up then they weren’t meant to make art, which is fine. One can live creatively without making art.

Tell us about your connection to your subject matter, way of working, concepts etc?

I’ve always been the weird one, the one that refuses to settle on a genre or style. When I make something people like, many expect me to make a bunch more of the same thing. Not likely to happen. I make as many pieces as are necessary to complete a project and then I move on.

If you could have any piece of artwork in your personal collection, what would it be and why?
I would love to own anything by Bruce Nauman, maybe a neon piece or one of his ‘animal parts’ sculptures. I relate to him because to me, he is also always making a drawing.

Can you name a favourite artist or three… and why?
I already named two, Cy Twombly and Bruce Nauman. Alberto Giacometti can be my third, I suppose. I admire their work because it’s usually very good.

What happens to works that “don’t work out”?
They get torn into pieces and oftentimes these pieces make their way into something else

Do you aim to break the rules of basic composition, layout etc or do you ignore the “rules” and just create?

What are the rules of basic composition? Has anyone really ever been able to teach this? There is no such thing as ‘basic’ composition. It’s either ‘good’ composition or ‘bad’ composition, and it’s completely relevant to and dependent upon the context/format. The eye either gets sucked into or repelled from the works we create.

What sort of research and or reference material do you do for current works and has that changed over time?
I’ve always done the same type of research, mainly collecting but also reading and writing theory, but I seem to spend more time at it as I grow older.


Musical influences?
I don’t always work to music, but when I do it might be Philip Glass, Outkast or Billie Holiday or They Might Be Giants, Madonna or the Beatles.

About significant moments in your life, the sort of things that changed things for you forever… perhaps altered your Art… Who how why what and where…?

I watched a 15 year old boy die a little over a year ago. He was dragged under the back wheel of a school bus. There was blood coming out of his nose and a huge bruise all along the side of his body. His name was Kevin.

What about the role of titles with your work, some hate them others revel in them, what about you?
My favorite titles are made-up words, like ‘superfluxable’ or ‘microcosmigram’, and generally I’m a fan of titles as long as they’re short and sweet.

You know you have “made it as an artist” when…
You’re able to live on a Greek island with a herd of goats.

Your first “decent” gallery representation, how did it come about?
It came about the same way all good things come about, through a friend of a friend.

The business or marketing side of Art can be a challenge to some, what are your thoughts?
This is just about the only notion that has changed for me over time. When I was young I thought there was some holy ‘other’ somewhere who decided whether or not work was deserving of…something, I don’t know. Now I realize that the art market is very closed and settled and centered around certain institutions.

I have a ton of education but I’ve always been ‘outside’ this system, simply because I don’t know any rich, influential people. I decided quite awhile back to essentially ignore this system and make work I like and that people near and dear to me like.

In essence, there are two markets, one for the elite and one for the rest of us. This is true not just for art but for real estate, food, clothing, etc. This ‘regular person’ market is actually larger and more various if you’re willing to do some legwork, but it’s tough to stand out amidst a glut of landscape and flower paintings disguised as art.

What is the most unexpected response you’ve received from a viewer of your work?
One person told me the word “spit” was “tips” spelled backwards. My response was “okay, and-your-point-is…?”

Have you had much connection post sale with purchasers of your works?
Some buyers like to keep in touch, others like to covet the thing and be rid of you.

Name a book or books, which may have inspired your work as an artist?
The Ecstasy of Communication by Baudrillard. A Clockwork Orange by Burgess. Oryx and Crake by Atwood.

Tell us about your studio environment?
I have a dirty shop-like studio space in my back yard, which fills the bill unless I want to work on clean little drawings. For those, I work at a table in the house.

Otto Dix the German artist said (in part)… “All art is exorcism…” Is that the case for you? If so how…
At some level he’s probably right, but I don’t think the viewer has to be beaten over the head with this all the time. Delicacy has its place.

Some say a measure of an artwork is the ability for it to hold a persons attention or cause the viewer to come back after an initial glance and become captivated by the work, is that so for your works or an intention of yours?
This is definitely an intention, that the work seduce the viewer. Baudrillard argues that only the object has the power to seduce, and I agree.

What is one thing you need to have in your studio before you work?
A pile of carefully considered debris.

What or how do you respond to the term “Starving Artist”?
I suppose it’s better than the notion that all artists wear berets.

How important is society, culture and or history to your work?
Very important.

Is the making of art all it was “cracked up to be”?
I’ve never harbored any delusions about the making of art, except maybe the aforementioned delusion that the cream always rises to the top, when in fact geography, luck and social status can play a huge part in an artists’ level of success.

Do you work from life, or from photographs or from imagination or some other method? Most of my work is derived from bits and pieces of our constructed world, whether it be photographs, web content, commercially printed materials, television stills, etc. I also work from life on occasion, and I take photographs of subjects I can’t dig up by any other means.

Do you aim to make “masterpieces” with the aim of being seen in the future as an artist that really made their mark in art history?
It’s important to me to make timely work, work that’s relevant in this time and place, but it’s up to the historians to figure out the rest, and I’m more than happy to let them to do that thankless job.

What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?
Bestow hugs and kisses upon anyone you meet who appreciates what you do.

How often do you work in the studio?
When enmeshed in a project, daily.

Do you ever question being an artist?
Sometimes I wish I was a fireman or a nurse or something.

How has your mind-set changed from struggling to find your own style to solidifying what you are doing today?
There have been moments when I’ve thought, “Wow, I’m making some strange stuff!” but those moments are fleeting.

How do you establish your art work prices?
I price things according to how long they take to complete, so something that only takes a day or two to finish is very affordable, but something that takes a month or more to resolve is more expensive.

Does the gallery make the artist famous or does the artist make the gallery famous?
In most cases the latter. Collectors make the artist famous.

What was life like for you as you were growing up?
My mother was a ballet dancer and my father was an alcoholic advertising executive. They divorced, of course, and when I was six I went to live with my father and stepmother, a schoolteacher. I spent a lot of time alone doodling and making things to escape what was a tumultuous, drama-filled household. It wasn’t long before I met friends who also created things for similar reasons, and then I spent more time with my friends than with my family. It’s still that way.

How did your first solo show go?
That would be “siren” at Joseph Nease two years out of grad school, and it went pretty well.

Do you have difficulties getting into galleries?
Most commercial galleries in the midwest and southwestern US sell genre paintings. I’ve never bothered to try to get into them because I don’t make genre paintings. My work shows well in contemporary art galleries, but the buying audience for contemporary work is so small they usually operate in the red, so, especially in the last few years I’ve found it easier to sell work directly.

How do you think people learn about you?
Through the internet mainly, but also through friends.

Eccentricity is seen as a common trait of artists of many disciplines, how about you?
I can’t remember most names or any series of random numbers. Is that eccentric?

Do you wake up with ideas at 2am etc… and have to jot them down?

No, but oftentimes I can’t get to sleep because of a new thought.

Want to see more Artist Interviews the day they are posted? Subscribe and we automatically send you the latest post via email, it’s easy click here to subscribe.

Compiled and edited by Steve Gray © 2009+

Follow me on twitter!


Comments are closed.