“Three of a Kind”

Tucson Home Magazine

“Three of a Kind”
By Charlotte Lowe Bailey

Fall 2003

Carrie Seid, a Chicago transplant, brings the energy of a dervish to Tucson. Given her nature, it’s only fitting that she combines several diverse mediums to make her sculpture, pushing it “to the edge” as she was taught at the innovative Rhode Island School of Design (it produced The Talking Heads) and at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan.

Her work can be described as veiled, like skyrockets bursting in blue sky under a glass dome. Or colorful, like goldfish and starfish, suspended in jello. It’s textural like an ocean wave, cashmere, or gold dust.

In her garage studio, part of the Tucson estates / California-meets-Bollywood home, Seid explains that she makes this primarily wall-relief art “because I like making something that doesn’t exist.”

Drawing from nature and architecture, Seid wants her cloth-covered abstract armatures on painted bases-the mixed-medium she’s been working in since 1990- to be “mysterious, intriguing, something to encounter.” She wants them to show the experience she had when scuba diving in the Caribbean. Or she wants them to represent small scars of emotion she absorbs and releases.

Starting out in graphic design and later moving on to painting, Seid found two-dimensional art less alive than weaving. Her ventures into fiber art created more “depth, color, light play, illusion, and space.” The work she’s doing now extends space, she explains, demonstrating by spreading her arms apart over her head, “to exploit the rich color qualities that attract me.”

Seid has set up a pre-painted base to demonstrate her process. The ground, painted on plywood, is an abstract design in a strong blue and orange. On the board she has attached ribs, or “gestures,” of sheet copper, sanded on the edges so it won’t snag the covering, and coated to prevent oxidation.

This time she picks a buttery gold piece of silk, drapes it over the relief shape on the board and snips away the remaining fabric like excess pie crust. For larger pieces she has two part-time assistants to hold the board and stretch the silk. The fabric has to be protein-fiber silk. “It remembers what you’ve done to it,” she explains.

She applies watered-down glue to the fabric with a sponge brush, then vigorously stretches the cloth. “It’s like I’m turning it into flesh,” she says. It’s gooey and rubbery at this stage, and hard to handle. Now with it draped back over the base, she pulls the fabric taut to create a tight bubble. The latent color begins to emerge as the silk reveals the concave and convex spaces. She has to work fast in this hot, dry climate as she uses a sponge brush again to apply oil to the surface that will make the silk translucent without leaving ridges. Other times she leaves the piece opaque. “The silk turns into glass.”

Some of her newer work has just returned from a show in Scottsdale. One piece is a heat wave, orange and juicy. Another is spiky green, an exotic South American fruit, that turned on it’s side becomes a proper sunset.

Sandy-haired, pint-sized, enveloped in a shop apron and balanced on platform clogs, Seid –“trained to push the medium to the next level” – is like dynamite in mid-explosion under a hot desert sun.