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CARMEN SMITH’S ‘COLOR POOLS’ EXHIBITION DIVES INTO INTROSPECTION

Written By Ana Maria Carrano
February 22, 2024 at 9:13 PM

Artist Carmen Smith has a new solo exhibition at the IMAGO Cultural Center in South Miami. Photo courtesy IMAGO.

Pools hold a familiar place in Carmen Smith‘s life. Growing up in Florida and being a competitive swimmer throughout high school and college, water and swimming pools were integral to her experiences and everyday landscape.

In her solo exhibition “Color Pools” at the IMAGO Cultural Center, Smith offers a colorful, vibrant, and introspective view of pools, but not “from the water.” They are depicted in solitude and from a distance, with an atmosphere of mystery. Some works convey solitude “because there are no people in them, but you can tell there might be life because there is a light on somewhere,” Smith explains.

Curator Katherine Chacón describes the exhibition as a curated selection of moments from Smith’s reflective journey, highlighting the pivotal piece, “Interference Pools.” “This small painting serves as a bridge between representational and abstract pieces, featuring two kidney-shaped pools that later transform into ‘ponds of color,’ emblematic of the artist’s characteristic palette,” Chacón explains in her curatorial text.

“Late Night Swim,” 2022. Oil on Canvas. 54 x 24 in. Photo courtesy Carmen Smith.

The pools in Smith’s exhibition are oil on canvas, with solid, intense colors––sometimes neon––and silhouettes of water slides that appear as simplified drawings. The water seems to glow in her nighttime scenarios. The artist explores contrast and balance in her work, blurring the lines between fantasy and reality. She wants her scenes to “make people think about the importance of play and space in our lives.” In this way, she explores how “the built environment affects emotional and psychological states.”

“Deep End,” 2022. Oil on Canvas. 18 x 32 in. Photo courtesy Carmen Smith.

Smith finds it interesting how her paintings raise questions about the representation of the positive and negative spaces of the pool and the surrounding buildings. “Within the perspective,” Smith says, “a pool is kind of going under the horizon.” There’s a little push and pull,” she notes.

Chacón explains that Smith’s “language has posed a greater synthesis, creating an almost graphic tension between fields of color and linear simplifications” and that the exhibition presents moments of reflection in which the artist “examines her expressive possibilities through abstraction.”

“Silver,” 2022. Oil and Acrylic on Canvas. 36 x 24 in. Photo courtesy Carmen Smith.

In the artist’s words, her “artistic motivation is experimentation.” In her paintings, she loves to explore the pool for “its significance in South Florida as a symbol of leisure, but also because of the push and pull it creates as a void within the canvas visually.” Smith explains that, for the most part, the pools are painted from vague memories combined with South Florida locations.

Born in Jacksonville, FL and based in South Florida, Carmen Smith is an Associate Artist at the Bakehouse Art Complex and a full-time elementary school art teacher. She holds a BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Richmond, VA and has been exhibiting since 2016. Her “Color Pools” exhibition is on view at IMAGO Cultural Center through March 23, 2024.

WHAT “Color Pools” by Carmen Smith

WHEREImago. 4028 SW 57th Ave. South Miami, FL 33155

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m, Monday through Friday / 10 a.m. to 1 p.m, Saturdays. Through March 23, 2024

COST: Free

INFORMATION:  (954) 404.3584  https://imagoartinaction.com/

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