Eric Carson | Flores Unum | Mapping the One Fractal
Eric Carson’s reverence and mistrust for iconic structures began early in his life. Born and raised in the deep cool green of the pacific northwest, the natural world was always a source of inspiration. Carson’s early life in the Catholic church seeded a deep appreciation for contemplative objects and rituals. He broke from the church while pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Art from Central Washington University. A 2004 study in Italy undid the hegemony of European Renaissance art for him while deepening his connection with the source of its inspiration.
While still in Ellensburg, Carson experienced a change so great it would come to define his entire worldview. In 2004 he embraced his soon to be life partner and artistic collaborator, Kristin Shiplet. Carson and Shiplet grew together forging their worldviews in the heat of partnership that only continues to grow stronger.
The pair returned to Seattle in 2006 and Carson began working at a major contemporary art institution there. The following decade of professional experience gave him a glimpse at the business end of art while lifting the veil on “masterworks.” Carson was troubled and empowered… seeing the lowest common denominator of work that would sell, would not upset board members, and had the veneer of social commentary. Only works that met these criteria would be elevated to institutional acclaim. Something had to change.
In 2009 Carson completed his first cosmograph. Six years later he would enroll at San Francisco Art Institute to begin a Master of Fine Arts. The pair packed up all their belongings and drove down the coast in search of the next adventure under the california sun. While studying at SFAI Carson took an interdisciplinary approach to mapping the one fractal.
After graduating the pair moved into a tiny studio apartment in the Richmond district of San Francisco where Carson keeps a studio, makes his home with his partner, and continues to create snapshots of the infinite.
Flores Unum refers to this one blossom that is our universe. And Eric Carson has set about the task of nothing less than mapping the one fractal that is the visual expression of all that connects us. He appropriates the sacred geometries of mandalas and icons, the fractal geometry of nature, and the format of scientific illustrations to harness the torrent of images and relationships generated by contemporary life. We are exposed to more than one thousand images a day and this field of images becomes the background of daily experience, forming a rich though often unrecognized habitat of information. We have learned to process our image-saturated culture with a technique known as visual hyper-literacy. Carson depends on this visual hyper-literacy to move the viewer through his compositions and to pit ideologies against each other. Not so much as to dictate a single answer but hopefully a constellation of answers. These constellations are spaces of wonder(ing), spaces where competing ideologies can exist simultaneously, and hints of new ways of being in the world coalesce.
Inside Carson’s dense symmetrical compositions, called Cosmographs, are symbols, text, and materials from multiple systems of knowledge. The systems collide and yet the result is focused. A mandala’s radial symmetry and an icon’s anthropomorphic symmetry induce a calm but intense visual experience. This experience is a crucial safe space where contradictions can be exposed in a way that invites critical investigation. Images visualize nameless impulses and build on known fractals to imagine an extra-dimensional whole.
Avenue 12 Gallery
1101 Lake Street at 12th Avenue
San Francisco CA 94118