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#whyistayed by Carla Cardona

Where exhibited during Art Week:  Art Without Borders Miami International Exhibition at Gallery 212 Miami
2407 NW 2nd Avenue, Miami, FL 33127. Exhibition Opens November 30, 2016 VERNISSAGE 7-9pm
Contact for Sales & Information: Gallery 212 Miami; 516-532-3040 // info@ArtWithoutBorders.Miami

In the heart of the Wynwood Art District of Downtown Miami and right around the corner from Gallery 212 Miami, the Miami Rescue Mission at 2250 NW 1st Ave. Miami, FL 33127 Homeless Shelter, a 40 bed facility and recovery center, is a haven for homeless women and children, providing emergency overnight shelter as well as a long-term recovery program. http://www.miamirescuemission.com/women.htm (305) 571-2250

“Regression” Stage 1-4  #whyistayed 
Series of 4 pieces based on the progression of Domestic Abuse
20 x 24” Each, Mixed Media on Canvas

Artist Carla Cardona a.k.a. "2:30" Brooklyn, NYC 
Featured Artist :: Art Without Borders Miami (1 Year)  &

International Exhibition during Miami Art Basel 2016

In a powerful statement to raising awareness and support for Domestic Violence and its victims through her art, Artist Carla Cardona pledges 20% of sales of her Regression collection along with donations, accepted at Gallery 212 Miami during Miami Art Basel 2016, to benefit the local Miami Rescue Mission Center for Women and Children in Wynwood.   

ARTIST STATEMENT

My life is an accumulation of defining moments. Some moments were large, loud, and sometimes horrifying. While other moments were magical, and occasionally so small, I almost missed the privilege of noticing them. Nonetheless, they were my moments. Big or small, they are all equally important to me. With all of my defining moments, I never had one that solidified a decision to become an artist. Indulging in any form of creativity is just the way I am. I always knew it, and never needed a “moment” to “define” that part of myself. Mixing my artistic nature with defining moments enables me to view everything on different levels, and this is what I hope my art translates to its viewers. My work is meant to challenge what the viewer sees, to question how they feel, and to elevate their experience. 

     Although my inspiration is electric, my process is nowhere near as pleasant. Honestly, the process is my least favorite aspect of my artistic journey. Usually it begins by searching and researching, thinking and rethinking, until I have achieved complete mental stress. Once my mind has sufficiently suffered, I then begin to materialize a cohesive version of the clutter. My go to materials is usually wax pencils, acrylic paint, and a canvas or piece of cardboard. Though cardboard is more porous than canvas, and generally not as durable I prefer working with it. Watching that raw quality of the cardboard change, gives me the feeling of truly creating something out of nothing.

    In the earlier stages of my artistic journey, I mainly designed tattoos. I was still honing my skills, by creating my own version of mainstream ideas. Once I gained more confidence I started to branch off and create my own images, working larger, embracing mistakes, and taking risks. My paintings are mainly figurative art. Although my work usually focuses on a soft image, the element of darkness and sadness seeps through. The best way I can describe my work is having a childlike narrative mixed with modern goth elements. Currently I am exploring the idea of duality. Duality is another running theme in my life, and one I am sure many others can relate to. I am attempting to work in mixed media. By studying illusionists, I hope to find ways of incorporating true movement within a still image, without the use of technology. I am also exploring contrasts in color, texture, and lighting. My intention is to be able to touch the two most extreme parts of the viewer, igniting confusion and conflict. Ultimately creating the duality within the viewer, and not necessarily in the artwork. 

Regression Series by Carla Cardona 
Throughout my artistic career, I always stayed away from doing pieces that may be perceived as controversial.  Pieces like “Piss Christ” (Andres Serrano) and the “Holy Virgin Mary” (Chris Ofili) pushed boundaries and earned exposure. Although I can appreciate the meaning behind “controversial art”, I never imagined my work intentionally leading in any kind of “negative” direction. I wanted recognition for my talent, not selling out with controversial pieces highlighting political agendas or religious offenses. I always found the process of making art an escape from the harshness of reality, and hoped my audience would join me in my escape. I felt strongly about my position until earlier this year. 

In May 2016, I participated in a group exhibition called “Hashtags Unplugged” at The Caelum Gallery in NYC. This exhibition showcased various artist depicting the most infamous hashtags. The hashtag I represented was #WhyIStayed. During the time of the hashtag’s creation, there was a lot of buzz about why victims stay in abusive relationships, and #WhyIStayed was meant to change the tone of the conversation. Sadly there is still a stigma on domestic violence. Many people who haven’t experienced domestic abuse have a hard time understanding that it does not happen overnight. I immediately was drawn to this topic unfortunately because of personal experience. I very much wanted to create something that showed the progression of an abusive relationship, which in reality is the “Regression” of the relationship, as well as the individuals. 

In this series, I use images depicting social media posts, in order to continue with the hashtag theme. These images were displayed across four canvases, each referencing the major stages of typical victim behavior, as well as the physical abuse. The first is how any normal relationship begins, with happiness. The first image is a happy healthy woman, with her hair and makeup done. Behind her are various hashtags expressing her happiness of the relationship. The second stage is denial and isolation. Therefore the second image is the same woman with no makeup, her roots showing, and she looks tired and expressionless. Behind her are hashtags of excuses for the abuser’s behavior, and instigations of her ending relationships with friends/family. The third stage is when the victim protects their abuser, while blaming themselves. Again I used the same woman, but now has bruises and cuts on her face. The hashtags express how she feels she provokes the abuser, and defends him for his actions. The fourth stage depends on the next step, whether the victim successfully leaves the relationship, or the abuse escalates to the death of the victim. The fourth stage is very difficult. Seventy five percent of victims are killed as they attempt to leave the relationship, or after the relationship ended. Even for those who survive, they endure a long journey of emotional and mental anguish. So the fourth and final piece I wanted to show an open ending. I did this by showing the generic silhouette portrait that social media uses when there is no photo added. Behind there are no hashtags. My intention is for the audience to decipher their own ending. While displaying these images, I have them descending on the wall to show the regression. 

The day of the exhibition’s opening, I was extremely nervous. I never did a piece depicting any social issues, especially one that hits so close to home. I didn’t know what to expect, what kind of reaction I would get, or if I was ready to display something like this. I watched people one by one view my work, and began to notice something very different 

happening that wouldn’t normally occur at my other shows. The audience stood really close to my work, carefully reading and studying each piece. Usually I would receive various compliments and have people discussing amongst each other what they liked or disliked about my work, but this time there was a very loud silence. I thought nothing could top this powerful reaction, until one woman approached me. With teary eyes, she described her experiences of domestic violence, and expressed to me how meaningful my piece was to her. This was the first time I felt a genuine connection to my audience. 

The audience and I did not escape from reality that day. In fact we were embracing it. Through such a negative topic, we had a very positive experience. An experience that became one of my defining moments. I can only hope that my “Regression” series will reach a wider audience, and inspire those to become proactive. Whether it encourages you to help a friend, family member, or even yourself suffering from abuse, to find inner strength to make changes for a healthy and happy lifestyle.

To Benefit The Miami Rescue Mission Center for Women and Children (Wynwood)