“My dialogue with the canvas is like a dance,” explains artist Jane Carney of her work, brimming with movement, informed by years as a dancer and performance artist. “I’ve had a lot of different artistic experiences, but it is in visual art that I’ve found my true means of communication.”
Born on Chicago’s South Side, Carney says, “I’ve always thought of myself as an artist. It’s in my DNA.” Though she has called Wilmette home for the past 32 years, where she lives with her husband and where the couple raised their four children, it is in Evanston where she keeps her studio space. Two years ago, she was brought on to the Exhibition Committee of the Evanston Arts Center: “Evanston has an amazing group of artists and a very organized support system.”
It was around that same time, Carney made the decision to dedicate her attention to a full-time studio practice—she had spent years sharing her passion with students at Loyola Academy, where she chaired the art department. “It was important to me to be an example of a working artist for my students, and I always approached teaching as a coach or mentor,” she shares. “I learned so much from them—it really was a fantastic career.”
And it’s been in these last few years that Carney, a juried member of the National Association of Women Artists, has seen interest in work explode. She credits this to the disciplined studio practice she has created: you can find her there every day from 9 to 5. “I am very process-oriented,” Carney confesses. This process regularly blends materials and sources, inspired by German and Abstract Expressionism and, most recently, the Joffrey’s run of Midsummer Night’s Dream. She counts Richard Diebenkorn’s references to the male and female forms, Cy Twombly’s use of text, the printmaking featured on Robert Rauschenberg’s canvases, and the work of Picasso and Jim Dine among her most salient touchstones.
“When I initiate the canvas with a mark or I throw some paint on it, I never have a preconceived idea of what it’s going to be,” she describes. What begins with a line or loose gestural drawing is layered with collage, a putting on and pulling off with the goal of discovery. “I layer, layer, layer, and then I start excavating—creating unity out of chaos. I might hear a line from an old song and write those words on the canvas, or spray it with some water and let it drip—the drips might lead to something. I embrace mistakes,” she continues. “It’s often these disasters that create that ‘ooh’ moment.” While this looseness is indeed palpable, there is always a nod to formal composition, something that is incredibly important to the classically-trained artist.
This blending of the radical and traditional, this passion-driven process, caught the attention of Brandt-Roberts Galleries in Columbus, Ohio, who invited Carney to be part of a show on that very subject: artistic process. The three pieces she submitted sold immediately, and they have represented her ever since.
Closer to home, she is represented by Shannon Cahill of Art En Object based in Evanston. “She has really gotten my art out on the North Shore.” Just last July, she was a part of a show at the Union League Club and through January 1, 2019, she will have 14 canvases on display at Vedder Price in Chicago, her first corporate exhibit. Also through January 1, her work will be on exhibit at River Bank Lofts Gallery, helmed by Kellie Segal. She has also been part of Evanston Made, which she describes as an “amazing venue for artists living and working in the area.”
“I am so full of gratitude. There is such a joy in what I’m doing right now, and I think that comes through in my art. Transitions can be scary, but it’s all about perseverance and persistence. If you’re open to every stage of what life will bring, really exciting things happen.”
For more information, visit janecarneyart.com.