Artist Caroline Rekowski and promoter Nana Mtendaji are already closer than other similar partnerships. They both have children, they’re passionate about art, and they’re soon to become sisters-in-law. But no nepotism here – the two share a similar vision for art and work together well.
Caroline comes from a creative family background and has little formal training, relying instead on her instincts and natural creativity. Her label, Cardine Arts, has been around for two years, but this is her first solo show.
Nana, an art management major at SCAD, designed and planned Green Goddess: Pure Eccentric to showcase Caroline’s work as well as to fulfill a project requirement. The exhibition is part of a class requirement, but Nana’s enthusiasm for the event shows that she isn’t treating it like an assignment.
SAI sat down with Caroline and Nana to discuss the upcoming one-day exhibit.
SAI: Tell me about your work and the pieces you’re putting in the show.
Caroline: It’s all acrylic. I use a lot of natural pieces for canvases or just add pieces to my art to give it that natural look. It’s pretty simple and colorful – a lot of color. I have no meaning behind my art. I’m not in-depth like that. For me, there is no thought process. It’s just for fun.
SAI: How else have you gotten your work out there?
Caroline: [With Cardine Arts] I do a lot of the artisan festivals. I’ve been putting myself out there for two years, and this is another avenue for me. I do Art March, I’ve been in galleries, done commissioned arts – just getting myself out there.
SAI: Has your family been supportive of your art?
Caroline: Definitely. I have a very creative family. My husband is extremely creative, my boys – that’s one way I’m able to get things done. When I’m creating, they usually are right beside me creating too. Any art I’m doing has to be interactive with my life, because that comes first. It’s a part of our daily life. And my kids are very creative.
Nana: And her kids are very outgoing. Especially when Caroline takes us all on these micro-adventures.
Caroline: That’s where I find a lot of the stuff for my art.
SAI: Tell me about the design aspect of the Green Goddess exhibition.
Nana: The design part is always evolving. With Green Goddess, when I came up with the title, I had Caroline in mind because she’s all into nature and is the matriarch of her family. She’s definitely eccentric, and sometimes you just don’t see that until she starts speaking. Then I decided to expound on that by adding the eco-friendly aspect of it. We do that anyway, so why not keep educating people about it? Whatever makes sense that should be repurposed or recycled, that’s what’s going to be the purpose.
Caroline’s pieces are super-colorful and, just as the show describes, eccentric. Most of the paintings have a grassy background, clearly a conscious call-back to the environmental theme of the show. One piece depicts a skull with sunny yellow Ray-Bans, a black pompadour, and an electric blue suit. Another shows a sad owl with blue and green markings and huge, web-like eyes. In one work, the painted skull has a real dried flower in her hair. Caroline’s pieces demonstrate a good use of contrast, particularly those that use the electric blue and bright red combination. Her art echoes her fun-loving nature with its light subjects and bright colors.
The exhibit itself will expand upon the eco-friendly nature of Caroline’s work, including recycled silverware and separate bags for compost and recyclable materials. Even the sign-in book, Nana says, is made out of seed paper.
“Green Goddess” is a pop-up exhibit and will appear at Ampersand on August 1 from 6-9 p.m. only. Make sure to get there early so you don’t miss Caroline’s beautiful, sustainable art.