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A Rich Stew, encaustic wax, oil pigment, pan pastels, photography, encaustic monotype and fabric, 42 x 42 inches

Refusing Banality, encaustic wax, oil pigment, ink, pan pastels and photography, 30 x 30 inches

Why Caryl Gordon? 


Caryl Gordon’s high energy and relentless routine, combined with her work as a collagist, her use of encaustics and layers, and her comfort with advanced technological and digital forms of image making, make her the perfect candidate for an inquiry of this size and scope.  Gordon, 59 when she started the first painting in the series, has never let herself get dug in, never let her capacities decline, never stopped believing that she is an agent for change. 


She is genuinely earnest about happens in her life as an artist and has over four decades of cross-disciplinary study and a highly successful record of experimental innovation with wax, paint, fabric, pastels, and photography.


When you meet Caryl Gordon in person you can feel something exponentially more challenging and dramatic taking place.  She has the quiet, inspired look of someone stirred up with those matters that “lie within us” as Emerson said; a woman in the relentless pursuit of important answers.


Caryl Gordon dedicated a full, unbound period of eighty weeks focused on an artistic process where she used herself as the creative medium, simultaneously documenting: her experiments, their application to overall purpose and intent, the lessons she learned between use and result, and the source and origin of her obsessive desire to create and innovate.

This website is structured to be an examination and encounter with Caryl Gordon's If Children Built Our Cities series of encaustic, collage paintings. It is also an attempt to widen the comprehension of the artist's process  by identifying creative strategies Gordon used to reach her goal of painting eighty new and innovative works of art in 18 months.


The different parts of Gordon's experience are divided into four elements: time, inquiry, origins and technique.  The impact and implication of these four sequences on the artist's creative process and outcome guides these varied narratives.

Isolated in her Plano, Texas studio, Caryl Gordon wanted to test old ideas she had about herself but from a different perspective than ever before: creatively more naive about expectations and, if possible, unsuspecting in what she discovered.  Gordon dedicated the next two years using herself as the creative medium, re-setting aesthetic boundaries, and innovating new new ways to bend time and memory.  


Gordon took a leap in to her own inner contradictions, many she had guarded most of her sixty years of life, and started to layer them with new thoughts, reshaped their forms and sums, vitalized them with color, infused them with movement, and attacked them with a whimsy and freedom she would later describe as being, "like a child at play."  For a creative compulsive like Gordon it was an act of devotion.


Gordon’s unique gift of seeing and integrating architectural details, textures and surfaces into her work, turns her cities into ancient treasure troves filled with the unearthed gifts and stories. The geometry is all wrong of course, with dimensional perspectives overrun by roads, rivers, alleys and planets. Gordon is expert at applying a constructed logic which organizes and holds things up, but the cityscapes are meant to be of the future and unknowable as they are fused together from imagined abstractions and dreams of chaos. 


At 61, Gordon is especially remarkable not just because she continues to create against all odds, but because at a time in her life when most people start thinking of comfort and retirement, she openly strives for danger.