My paintings consider the female body in the throes of infertility treatment, pregnancy, and postpartum, while using an iconographic language specific to my upbringing--that of the cranberry. Having grown up on a cranberry farm in New England, my life is intimately tied to this berry, which represents both abundance and fecundity but also tension with the patriarchal family hierarchy. The berry is a repeated icon in my visual lexicon: the fruit is like a garnet ambrosia, an exalted potion that seeps through my paintings, whether conceptually or literally, and intoxifies its subjects. Photographs of berries and botanical illustrations replace and adorn parts of the female body. Breasts become globular appendages that bubble up, guzzle down, shrivel, leak, and lactate. Influenced by folklore and mythology, I quote deities of jest, filth, lust, and light. Women embody the celebratory nature of the harvest alongside a certain burlesque attitude, performing a sumptuous dance between maiden, mother, and crone. Wanton figures of myth and fairytale embroil themselves within the monstrous feminine and the maternal grotesque.
I use alternative media and surfaces to emphasize a visceral mark. The spill of ink on nonporous, translucent drafting film (a.k.a. mylar) refers back to the body permeating beyond its own boundaries. The fluid is juxtaposed with collage elements; using solvents and other transfer methods I directly appropriate reference images from my archive.
Spumadonna, 2019, Ink and image transfers on drafting film, 48" x 59"
I reference the Sheela-Na-Gig, a mysterious fertility statue found across medieval Europe, in all her yonic glory. From her insides spew a bubbling bunch of cranberries, an image transfer of a photograph I took during the harvest of my family’s cranberry farm. Made during an artist residency in the wine-rich Italian area of Piedmont, I equate the area’s own agricultural fertility with that of my origins on New England cranberry bog: the title “Spumadonna” combines Italian words for “bubbling” (as in the sparkling wine Spumante) and “woman”.
Alexandra Carter (b. 1985 in Boston) lives and works in San Diego, California. She received an MFA from Goldsmiths University of London in 2015 and a BA from Rhodes College in Memphis in 2009. Recent solo exhibitions include “A Sense of Heat in Her Brain” at Luna Anaïs Gallery Los Angeles (2020), “Berries for Baubo” (2019), and “All gods are hot” (2018) at Radiant Space Los Angeles. Other exhibitions include Brea Gallery (Brea, CA), Fusion Gallery (Turin, Italy), Projecto’ace Foundation (Buenos Aires), and the Brooks Museum of Art. She has been selected for residency projects nationally and internationally, including Kone Foundation’s Saari Residency (Finland), KulturKontakt Austria (Vienna), Qwatz (Rome), Graniti Murales (Sicily), Vice~Versa Foundation (Goa, India), RECSIM (Jashipur, India), Galerija-Muzej Lendava (Slovenia), and the Kentucky Foundation for Women (Prospect, KY).