The Visual Vocabulary of Artist Caroline Kent

For the first artist feature of the year, I’m excited to share the unique artistic expressions of Chicago-based artist, Caroline Kent. One of the things I appreciate about this artist is how she mixes different art forms together and creates a visual vocabulary. Oftentimes, she ties in her artwork with performances. At past exhibitions, she’s had dancers build choreography to accompany her art. I love that the way she composes her art with structure and rhythm pairs well with movement.

About the Artist

Caroline Kent stands in a gallery working on her art.

Caroline Kent received her MFA from the University of Minnesota in 2008. Through her artwork, she explores the relationship between language, translation, and abstraction. She draws a lot of her inspiration from her Mexican heritage. Her work is influenced by Mexican sculptors and painters like Pedro Coronel. Similarly to these artists, her large-scale works are rich in color and texture. Caroline also draws inspiration from architecture, foreign languages, and film.

Kent’s Process

Caroline’s process is driven by experimentation and improvisation. For many of her pieces, she begins by hanging the canvas stretched flat against the wall. Next, she applies a few layers of black and then loosely creates shapes and forms over it. She describes this part of the process the “underpainting.” She then cuts out pieces of paper, rotating and arranging them until she is satisfied.

Kent’s Artwork

Musings on how to leave and re-enter a room

"Musings on how to leave and re-enter a room," an abstract painting by Caroline Kent.

Caroline says she uses the black background as “a signifier for ‘unlocatability,’ providing a necessary non-space that acts as a site for language to sit within.” I love how the dark contrast really makes the colors and patterns seem to pop off the flat surface.

When that which is not fully known makes an insistence

I love the color palette and line work in this piece. The metallic gold shapes add a beautiful texture and sheen, and I love how they appear to be in overlapping layers. The bold, colorful shapes against the loose disappearing patterns in the background create a visually appealing contrast.

A costume, a contemplation

"A costume, a contemplation," an abstract painting by Caroline Kent.

This piece is another great example of how Kent makes light color palettes work surprisingly well against an all-black background. I love her use of the dark blue lines to pull different visual elements together in such an intentional way. I also enjoy how the background seems to feature a soft shading of faded colors, almost like a shadow.

To speak before spoken to

Here we get a glimpse at how the artist ties performance elements into her displays. This highlights how Kent creates her art in a way that is structured, rhythmic, and comparable to choreography. This adds another form of expression to communicate the thought behind her creations.

Kohn Gallery Exhibition

A Sudden Appearance of the Sun

A solo art exhibition by Caroline Kent at Kohn Gallery.

Caroline Kent’s first solo exhibition was hosted at the Kohn Gallery. For this show, A Sudden Appearance of the Sun, the artist displayed eight of her large paintings in a large open space. Most of the pieces in this collection have a stark black background. I love how each painting is so unique, yet they all clearly complement each other.

How breathtaking are all of these creations by Caroline Kent? It’s so interesting to see how each of her unique pieces seems to resemble pre-linguistic markings and form a visual vocabulary. My favorite aspect of her art is the free-form shapes that seem to float in front of their dark backgrounds.

I will never get tired of sharing the unique style of each artist I feature here on the blog. If you’re looking for more beautiful works of art to explore, check out the stunning salt creations of Bettina Werner or the abstract work of Helen Frankenthaler.