Cara Barer

Artwork

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Cara Barer
Artist statement I transform books into art by sculpting them, dyeing them and then through the medium of photography presenting them anew as objects of beauty. I create a record of that book and its half-life. Books, physical objects and repositories of information, are being displaced by zeros and ones in a digital universe with no physicality. Through my art, I document this and raise questions about the fragile and ephemeral nature of books and their future. I arrive at some of my images by chance and others through experimentation. Without these two elements, my work would not flow easily from one idea to the next. A random encounter on Drew Street with a Houston Yellow Pages was the primary inspiration for me. After that chance meeting, I began to search for more books, and more ways to recreate them. I realized I owned many books that were no longer of use to me, or for that matter, anyone else. Would I ever need a “Windows 95 Manual?" After soaking it in the bathtub for a few hours, it had a new shape and purpose. Half-Price Books became a regular haunt, and an abandoned house yielded a set of outdated reference books, complete with mold and neglect. Each book tells me how to begin according to its size, type of paper and sometimes contents. As I begin the process, I first consider the contents of each volume. I only spent a few seconds on the “Windows 95 Manual”. The “New Century Dict-ionary of the English Language,” was a treasure. Its fascinating illustrations and archaic examples saved it from taking on a new form. This transformation and photographic docu-mentation led to thoughts on obsolescence and the relevance of libraries in this century. Half a century ago, students researched at home with the family set of encyclopedias, or took a trip to the library to locate information. Now, with computers, tablets and/or smartphones, an Internet connection and cloud storage, a student has the ability to amass knowledge and complete a research paper without ever going near a library. I have fully embraced all this technology, and would not want to be without it, but fear the loss of the beautiful record of books common over the last two centuries. Artist statement for "When the Ice Melts" The effects of climate change and melting polar ice are behind the images of a dystopian world I have imagined for this series titled, “When the Ice Melts.” Scientists believe that the oceans will rise three to four feet in this century. The clash of our consumer culture and industrial greenhouse gases with nature are most likely one of the primary reasons for this drastic change. I believe our weather will become harsher, and that cycles of flooding and drought will become our “new normal.” I have decontextualized photos from my travels, common objects, and the detritus of our increasingly destructive and wasteful way of life in order compel the viewer to engage and consider the real possibility that a changing landscape is in their near future.
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Artist