Thursday, March 1, 2018

INSPIRE ME! Artist of Month, Carole P. Kunstadt - March 2018

By Ernest Disney-Britton
Carole P. Kunstadt's "Sacred Poem LXX" (2010), 3.25 × 4.625 × 4.625 in. – gampi tissue, 24 karat gold leaf, antique wooden box, paper: pages from Parish Psalmody 1849. Collection of the artist. 
We are pleased to welcome Carole P. Kunstadt back as an INSPIRE ME! Artist of the Month. In 2014, we featured the NY artist as an artist of month, and we are doing it again in March 2018 because she is currently featured in the latest issue of ARTS, the journal of the Society for the Arts in Religious and Theological Studies, and also in a new show in Connecticut opening on March 2 at the Five Points Gallery. The artist creates objects from the pages of the Book of Psalms. The final product is sewn, woven, or layered together with great care. As a bookmaker and sculptor, Kunstadt’s careful reconstructions of the sacred text demonstrate the respect and awe that she has for the Book of Psalms. Below is an updated reposting of her 2014 interview on Alpha Omega Arts.
Carol P. Kunstadt's woven self portrait submitted in 2018 replaces her 2014 image of her working in her studio
1. What is your faith tradition, and how does it impact your art? Having been brought up Jewish, and having married into a family that fled Europe in 1938, I am most sensitive to the importance of memory and history. My work is a vehicle for the expression of gratitude, the exploration of life’s vulnerabilities and as a platform for sanctity and contemplation.
Sacred Poem LXXXIX, 6.5 x 5 x 2.5 in., gold leaf, paper, 2014, Collection of the artist. 
2. Describe your artwork. What style or genre is it? My works reference the material of books, deconstructing paper and text, and using it in metaphorical ways. My devotion to books is inspired by the ability of the written word to take  the reader to other places through stories, poems, and prayers. Through the exploration and manipulation of the materials the process reveals how language can become visual through re-interpretation.
Five Books of Moses/Old Testament Series, 8.5 x 11 x 4 in., gampi tissue, gold leaf, paper, 2009. Collection of the artist.
3. Have you ever had to defend exploring religious ideas? A long held thought that influences my works on/of paper is: Evidence in the tactile provides contrast of the ethereal.  How do I as an artist present the spiritual and unutterable concepts while in this physical plane.
Sacred Poem XVIII, gampi tissue, thread, 5.825 x 5.825 x 1.5 in., 2011, Collection of the artist.
4. Who collects your work, and why? My work is intimate in scale and sentiment, requiring the viewer to be sensitive and contemplative.  I like the notion of one having to slow down in order to fully appreciate the work.
Covenant/Old Testament Series, 3 x 3.5 x 2.125 in., gampi tissue, linen thread, paper, 2009, Collection of the artist
5. What "risks" have you taken in creating your work? Perhaps the most widely known book worldwide is the Bible. Especially in the West where it was the first mass-printed book, its influence in history and literature has been major. Despite our basic familiarity and the positive or negative response one may have had previously to it or to aspects of it, my work utilizing and transforming the Bible as well as the Psalms alters one’s experience of these classic texts.  Reinventing the books, completely free of theological or political filters, I am not only exploring their physical integrity but also creating new hybrid forms which reflect memory, history and sanctity.
Lenore Tawney, Round and Square, collage, 1966, photo courtesy Lenore G. Tawney Foundation. 
6. Which artists have influenced your style or direction? Lenore Tawney, Zarina Hashmi for their dedication to materials, process, exploration and a commitment to their aesthetic journeys.
Kings/Old Testament Series, 4 x 4 x 1.75 in., gold leaf, thread, paper, 2012, Collection of the artist.
7. How can A&O readers collect/experience Carole's work? For further information visit:

(03/01/18) A few works from the "Sacred Poem" are still available for collectors. Learn more about Carole P. Kunstadt’s “Sacred Poems” at ARTS Vol. 29, No. 1, 2018 and also check out her work in the new show, "Paper Rock Scissors" (March 2 - April 7, 2018) at Five Points Gallery, 33 Main Street in Torrington, CT,
"Pressing On" - work chosen for "Paper Rock Scissors" is part of a new series having it's debut in this exhibit. A grouping of five will be displayed. Kunstadt is also working towards an installation of 50 or more antique sad irons for an upcoming solo exhibition in December 2018. (the series can be found on her website in the Heroines portfolio.