Simard Bilodeau Contemporary, is pleased to present The Merry Makers, a solo exhibition by Illinois-based pop surrealist painter, Carrie Pearce. This collection offers the viewer a peak into the fantastical mind of Pearce, who perceives reality with a childlike curiosity and finds magic in the forgotten, the strange, and the macabre. As The Merry Makers leads the viewer down a yellow brick road of sorts, he or she will be transported to world of Ina, a child for whom imagination and wonder have lifted out of tragedy, and the muse of this collection of work. What follows are words from the artist, herself:
These paintings are about the magical world of make-believe and the imagination that brings us hope, dreams, fears, and wishes. Inspired, by a photo of a little girl in a full body cast, arched like a rainbow surrounded by her toys, seemingly being carried by her toy elephant. Ina is her name, and she was hospitalized for the first ten years of her life. Due to a rare form of Tuberculosis, she underwent dozens of surgeries to fuse her spine and was in a cast for a decade. Her parents were only allowed to visit once a month. She had only her imagination, nurses and a few toys. Ina is healthy today and in her nineties. She was a seamstress, crafter and doll maker. I would like my paintings to inspire people to use their imaginations. There is no story that can’t be told, real or imaginary. I would also like to bridge the gap between fine art and pop surrealism, I feel as if I am somewhere between the two. A collection of my inspirational objects will be on display to illustrate my imaginative process.
Alongside Pearce’s paintings, Simard Bilodeau Contemporary is featuring a collection of her inspirational found objects and photographs, in order to allow the viewer to further immerse him or herself into the artist’s process. These strange, wonderous, and potentially even grotesque emblems of the past, which Pearce collects during her spare time, are the sparks behind her creations. Around them she forms a narrative, perhaps borrowing from historical figures or events, perhaps creating a fictional fantasy. The viewer is invited to be propelled by the mystery of these objects, just as Pearce is.
This solo exhibition promotes imaginative faculty on the viewer’s behalf. Pearce’s work leaves no choice but to wonder who, what, why, when, and how? The innocence and naivité of Pearce’s work end at its inception. Supporting her childlike storytelling is a foundation of technique and precision, influenced by 16th century masters. Pearce’s palette incorporates mahogany and sepia tones which speak to the antique and vintage influences in her work, while pops of vivid color conjure joyful feelings of a child’s birthday party, or more profoundly, the importance of lightness and glee amidst darkness and tragedy.
Carrie Pearce was born in Peoria, IL in 1969. Art has been an integral part of her life since childhood, as has her sense of wonder, both of which can be seen in her work. Her first memorable inspiration came from the artist Ann Adams (1937-1992), who’s disability left her able to only draw by holding a pencil in her mouth. This attraction to the unusual, the unexpected, is a common thread in Pearce’s person and practice. She graduated cum laude from Savannah College of Art and Design in 1991, where she had received a presidential scholarship. Her interest lies in stories—of people, nature, events, et cetera and she occasionally gathers inspiration from turn of the century photos. These stories may be dipped in truth and embellished, or completely unique and fictional.
Pearce has exhibited across the USA, and in many publications and media outlets. Her work has garnered nearly 15 various awards such as Best in Show at Hot Works South Carolina 2017, and the Congressional Art Award, First Place. She was a top ten finalist for the Bennet Prize 2019. Recently she has shown at Art Palm Springs 2017 and 2019, Texas Contemporary 2018, and Los Angeles Art Show 2018 and 2019. Pearce participated in the 2019 group show “On Paper” at Simard Bilodeau Contemporary. Other notable participations include: 2018 Cory Helford Gallery, 5th art collector group show, 2018 Affordable art Fair, London Battersea, Decorazon Gallery, 2018 Affordable Art Fair NYC, Decorazon Gallery, 2018 Sweet Nothings, Exhibit A Gallery, Peoria, IL, 2018 The New Romantics, Cory Helford Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, 2018 Surrealism group show, Blue Rain Gallery, Santa Fe, NM, 2018 Visions of Venus, Zhou b Art Center, Chicago, 2017 Affordable Art Fair London, Decorazon Gallery, 2017 Affordable Art Fair Stockholm, Decorazon Gallery, 2017 Affordable art Fair New York, Decorazon Gallery, 2017 Emergance, Peoria River front Museum, Peoria, Il, 2016 Aqua Art Miami, Miami, Fl, 2016 Sacred and Profane, Signature Galley, Atlanta, Ga and 2016 Phantasmagoria, OKAY Spark Gallery, Norfolk, Va.