Eleanor Harwood Gallery is pleased to present Making Being Here Enough, our first solo show with Carissa Potter.
“Making Being Here Enough” is the title of the show. For Carissa Potter, the title is about being in our homes, sheltered in place, about our limited experience “being enough”. Carissa’s fan base -- she has many followers on Instagram and has published two books with Chronicle Press -- will recognize her graphic clarity and heartfelt openness tinged with longing and loss. The exhibit is also about entering into the virtual space and engaging with the artist, various panelists and curators about these experiences being “enough” as we attend her virtual events scheduled throughout the run of the show. As we save each other’s lives by staying where we are, let’s make “being here enough”.
This show materialized out of a need during the Covid-19 pandemic. Potter created a series of paintings intended for her first solo show in the gallery. As the pandemic intensified, she changed course and designed a virtual exhibit with an exact rendering of the gallery made possible by the architectural team at Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, the firm best known for designing Apple stores around the world. In the mirror-site of the gallery, Carissa populated the virtual space with plinths, wallpaper, and wall-paintings that only exist rendered in 3D and in Carissa’s imaginings. Why not paint smiling suns all over the HVAC pipes? Why not add murals? Why not? It’s not there. But it is there. It is so wonderfully there. We can be in multiple spaces at one time, and eschew binary ideas of place.
The virtual replication of the gallery somehow heightens the poignancy of works about touch, connection and longing. Wide, curving brushstrokes describe women hugging; vases, plant pots and pendant lights; blooming flowers, hanging plants and undulating leaves that interrupt the dullness of and distance of our screens with flashes of domestic intimacy. We are in the moments that have spread to months of global loneliness and separation. We are all manifesting some version of anxiety. The wide brush strokes feel solid, sure and comforting,. Potter’s committed, forceful, strong lines are like a weighted blanket, softening our doubts and anxiety with their clear, intentional comfort.
These works were made during a huge transition in Potter’s life. She has recently become a mother to a child who needs extra care. Many of her works in previous shows felt like they were asking questions and perhaps offering comfort but also asking for comfort. These paintings are made by a woman who has learned how to comfort herself. There’s a reason the arms are so large and hugs are so pervasive. Sometimes we are asked to do more than we think we are capable of, or have the strength to face. More often than not, we seem able to summon the strength to meet the challenge. The scale of the bodies describe an outsized ability to care. Carissa has grown exponentially in her ability to mother and comfort. She has a huge heart and she is offering a gift for all of us. This series of paintings and the virtual exhibit extend outward to our sheltering places.
These works were produced at a time of profound upheaval and challenge for the artist. Carissa is not the same painter and, after months of social isolation, social upheaval, health and economic crises and hundreds of thousands dead, neither are we.