Welcome to GIBBIN HOUSE!

When I first started this blog about the misadventures of a nascent author, I had only a small novel under my belt, titled Gibbin House. The building that bears the name is a fictitious postwar era safe-house, as many might have existed, and the London home of my motley crew of exiles. I could not anticipate then the degree to which I would join its ranks of writers and artists, but since publishing my book in 2011, I have had the greatest privilege of opening my own art gallery and of exploring my love of the written word through visual poetry and paper sculptures. Yet much like the girl who first started blogging two years ago, I suspect I don't know what I'm doing half the time. As such, Gibbin House remains a refuge for ramblings...and on occasion a haven for little triumphs.

Monday, July 29, 2013

LITTLE TRIUMPHS: Winning Best In Show at the Foundry Art Centre

"Se Vende" is Awarded Top Prize and Solo Show in the "Paper Cuts" Exhibit!

Warning: Candid Observations of a Personal Nature Below...

Dear Readers: earlier this Spring, I felt a sudden urgency, as I had never before, to realize my artistic ambitions in a concrete way...oh, I had written the novel, made my art, held a reading here, a signing there, managed not without considerable feet-dragging at last to build a website...but my sporadic efforts quite plainly lacked focus, cohesion...I was keenly aware that for the most part I had dropped the ball these last two years, for a number of reasons, which were ultimately immaterial except for the fact that they had all conspired to distract me from my purpose.  I was left with no other choice than to face my failures and roll up my sleeves...

Going forth, my plan for 2013 centered on two main tasks: 1) to garner reviews for Gibbin House as a lead-in to my next book, and 2) to gain acceptance into art exhibits outside my gallery.

By April, my first task was well underway, and as I continue to work with a host of kind reviewers, I welcome readers to message me here or on my Carola Perla Website with any testimonials they're willing to share!

For the second, I scoured possible gallery and online exhibits.  It was not the easiest thing - my pieces were too large for most, the wrong medium for others.  Moreover, I was desperate to find an exhibit that celebrated paper and sculpture together - I wanted to see my work next to my peers, as a confirmation that I too belonged.  Naturally, when I stumbled across the Foundry Art Centre's Call to Artists for 'Paper Cuts' I instantly regarded it as 'the' event I wanted to join.  Cut-paper exhibits are shockingly rare, and the space seemed so beautiful - I told myself that acceptance here would be the ultimate sign of  accomplishment in the task I had set out for myself. 

By the time the center's response letter arrived in June, I had already placed in another group show and had won an art magazine prize, so I told myself that it wouldn't be the worst thing if I didn't get in.  The envelope was so thin, I reasoned its contents could have no other message for me.  But then it did.

Fast forward three weeks, the short time span I had in which to ship my pieces and arrange my own travel to St. Louis.  As I have confided to my friends, I flew over there with the sensation of never having traveled before, much as I had navigating my way around Tallahassee during college orientation when I was eighteen and away from home for the first time.  It was strange, to be getting dressed for the exhibit opening, as if for the prom, going to see my work in a new space, all grown-up, heading towards this seminal moment which I had awaited with such anticipation, validation of me as an artist...and I was doing it all on my own.  Once again I stood in Anka's shoes, a shy little thing, waiting for the reality of my situation to sink in. 

The space was indeed lovely, a converted train car factory that still had the original steel lifts - in the second world war it had assembled torpedoes - with lots of natural light and high ceilings.  Any worries for the state my pieces might be in (thank you, fedex) immediately subsided as I spied them at the end of the long gallery.  They had been installed with great care and lit with just the right degree of intensity...from here on out, I told myself, I could deem the experience a success.  Being there is all I had wanted, it's all I had worked towards.  I even managed to mingle, to ingratiate myself a little with fellow artists, pose for a picture, not drop my wine.  It was all turning out better than I could have hoped. 

And then they called out my name.  Going Solo Award for "Se Vende" by Carola Perla.  The piece I had done in honor of my family, as a tribute to Casa Marsano, an expression of my love for all things Peru.  The jury could not begin to imagine the deeply personal significance of the house motif or the Spanish poem, its allusions to Chabuca Granda, dust and garua, fairytales and broken dreams...they could not know and yet they thought it deserving.

Now, I know there are exhibits around the country every day, meaning that artists are winnings awards every day, and so I will not let this little triumph go to my head.  There is so much work...SO MUCH WORK ahead of me.  But I will keep the feeling of this first victory in a safe place, to call on when doubt sets in, as it always will.  Because it is a beautiful, necessary thing to work for yourself, to make art that feeds your own soul and gives you a pure purpose...I worked happily in the shroud of anonymity for nearly a decade, as I felt I should.  But every decade or so, it's nice to receive an accolade, a stamp of approval...the community of directors, curators, and artists at the Foundry Art Centre were wonderfully kind and welcoming, and for their support of my artist's journey I thank them...

On to the next one...

For those of you in the St Louis area: please note that the exhibit runs through until September 27, 2013.  It features beautiful work in cut paper as well as book art. 

Here are some photos from the 'Paper Cuts' opening event, which took place June 28th:

Paper Cuts Exhibit at the Foundry Art Centre, St. Charles, MO

"Se Vende" and "Spelling Bee" by Carola Perla at the Foundry Art Centre

"Se Vende" and "Spelling Bee" at Paper Cuts Exhibit

"Se Vende" and "Spelling Bee" paper installations at Foundry Art Centre

"Se Vende" and "Spelling Bee" paper installations by Carola Perla

Winning piece "Se Vende" by Carola Perla

"Spelling Bee" visual poetry paper installation by Carola Perla

Carola Perla and Director Angela Fowle