December 21, 2012

Past, present, future: Q&A with Miguel Carter-Fisher

JOE BUN KEO: Your work ties the past to the present. You’re dealing what is in front of you now, but you always find a way to link to what has happened before. How does the future fit into your approach to your painting? What about tomorrow?

MIGUEL CARTER-FISHER: By blending the past and the present I feel I am carrying those experiences forward into my future. I guess it is an act of re-creation, or reflection. Immediate perception floods your imagination with light, sound, smells, and textures while memory provides connections and meanings to those sensations. The intense meditation that painting provides brings me to myself, and teaches me my own personal history. I recall things to go back to, or maybe things which demand further exploration. I can look back and say yes! that was it!. It was that moment. It was that feeling, From there I shape my future accordingly.

Miguel Carter-Fisher, Kate at Coney Island, 2012, oil on panel, 60 x 36 inches.
JBK: The light in your work is cold, but not in a negative way--like a cold breath that could be haunting and yet relieving at the same time. Is this the past/present dichotomy that you’re trying to capture in your work?

MCF: You hit the nail on the head. I believe that when composing a work of art, formal qualities take on metaphorical importance. You are not truly using the visual language until those forms transcend description and take on content. A classical guitarist I know named Jonathan Rodriguez once said to me, "Miguel it is not what the notes are but what the notes do that gives them meaning." I feel the same about light in my work. It is the means through which concept and narrative enter. When I paint light is never just a way of illuminating form, but how I attempt to encompass aspects of the human condition.

Miguel Carter-Fisher, Prague Sunrise, 2009, oil on canvas, 24 x 30 inches. 
JBK: You’ve just recently graduated from the New York Academy of Art. Explain the difference between your undergraduate studies at the Hartford ArtSchool and graduate studies in New York in regards to the curriculum; what are the similarities and differences?

MCF: The New York Academy of Art is far more specialized than Hartford Art School. The study of the human figure is the foundation of the curriculum at NYAA which allowed for me to deeply explore subjects that interested me as a figurative painter. By the time I got to NYAA I was starving for courses on traditional painting techniques, anatomical drawing, ecorche, and composition. Hartford Art School is broader, more of a survey, which is I think the healthiest thing an undergraduate program could be. I look back on the broad range of courses I took and am grateful that I got a more rounded education. Being a part of a University also allowed for me to study at other colleges, and while I was there Philosophy was as important to me as Painting. If there is one thing I can't complain about it is the quality of my education. I am very fortunate and lucky that both institutions were so different from one another.

Miguel Carter-Fisher, The Next Morning, 2012, oil on panel, 56 x 44 inches.
JBK: What’s the biggest difference from your undergraduate work to your most recent body of work? Progression or digression?

MCF: For starters the quality. I am still not thrilled with my own work but have come a long way. As for content I think it has been a long slow bloom. Despite the differences between the institutions I described earlier the work itself carries on in a consistent way. Referring back to your first question this is again that past carrying forward into the present. I think there has always been something inside me trying to get out, and as I grow and learn that voice has gone from an almost inaudible whisper, to a few soft statements. I aim to make it sing, and as of lately am increasingly excited about the next body of work I will take on.

Miguel Carter-Fisher, Zoe Reclining, 2012, charcoal on paper, 40 x 26 inches.

JBK: Tell us about what’s next for Miguel Carter Fisher? Are there any upcoming exhibitions or other creative opportunities?

MCF: Well as for exhibitions, I was in a Halloween themed show at Kraine Gallery on E. 4th St., and I am in a charcoal drawing show at Main Art Gallery in Richmond, my home town, early next year. I want to show wherever and whenever I can but the main objective now is to keep building up a body of work. I have been obsessively thinking about a few series of paintings, sometimes waking up at 4 in the morning, daydreaming about them like one might an infatuation. I just can't wait to get to the studio.

Thanks Joe, this has been a lot of fun!

Miguel Carter-Fisher, Dad, 2012, oil on panel, 24 x 18 inches.

Miguel Carter-Fisher, Megan, 2011, charcoal on paper, 60 x 96 inches
Image at top:  Miguel Carter-Fisher, Grandpa, 2012, oil on panel, 24 x 18 inches. Images courtesy of the artist. A video of Carter-Fisher's final critique at NYAA is posted on Vimeo.

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