Before you freak out on my title “One Hot Desert Bitch,” I had the opportunity to film Caroline Estelle in her studio painting a near-live size portrait of herself in a sweltering Phoenix swimming pool called “Desert Bitch.”
Caroline Estelle’s current body of work is a self examination border-lining beauty, erotica, and the grotesque. Imagine taking a magnifying glass or a microscope and surveying the blisters and pores, nooks and crannies of your private parts. One must be luridly detached and oddly fascinated in the kind of morbid reconnaissance Estelle paints on canvas. She paints nipples in topographical close-up at the perfect amount of distance that the viewer can feel the pleasure point of fire being stoked;touching a bare nipple; the sharp pain of a nipple being pinched; or the self-identification of an individual getting their nipples pierced.
Carolyn Estelle takes a clinical approach to painting skin. She deftly paints with such detail, each translucent layer of skin, veins, and its imperfections– bruises and all. I observed Estelle painting a self-portrait of her legs in a swimming suit by the pool at her Grant Street Studio. Her unusual approach to skin technique are like measles and mumps, the grotesque turned beautiful. The perspective is from a low angle which is unusual in a time where shooting from on high is so ubiquitous in the selfie age. At a young age, Estelle if probing and coming to her own terms with her confidence, self-identification, mores on beauty, and sexuality. It will take Estelle a lifetime to examine these things, but in the meantime she takes risks by challenging an intellectual class of art critics, yet wooing the the gaze of the common observer.
EMS, Hollywood. August 2018
Here are a few questions I asked Caroline…..
Why did you pick ASU Arts Program?
I wanted to move to a part of the country where I had never lived before. ASU has the location, ranking, and facilities that are a perfect fit for me. Once I saw the graduate studios down at Grant Street I was sold.
Who or what has influenced you the most creatively?
My cousin Amie is an art historian and she was the first person to introduce me to art. Over the years I’ve been able to share my work with her and ask her for advice. She has been the most encouraging figure in my life as an artist. I wouldn’t be an artist if it wasn’t for her.
If you could intern with any artist in history who will it be?
Definitely Marilyn Minter! She is my favorite contemporary artist. When I saw her retrospective, “Pretty/Dirty”, at the Brooklyn Museum I never wanted to leave. If I could work with her my life would be complete.
What is your art education?
I was really fortunate to grow up in a school district in Bucks County, PA with great art teachers. I do not think I would be as technically talented at painting if I hadn’t had an amazing high school art teacher, Mrs. Moriarty. I haven’t had anyone explain color theory to me as well since then. After high school I went to Penn State where I got a BFA with a focus in drawing and painting. The drawing and painting program at Penn State is definitely under-appreciated. I had some really incredible professors there that I still keep in touch with.
Do you experience FOMO?
Yes! When I see people post about really cool looking exhibitions and parties I want to be there! I really love hanging out at home by myself watching tv and painting, so I miss out on a decent amount.
Has social media benefited your art career?
Instagram has been a great outlet for me to sell my work. A lot of my followers are friends I have made throughout my life. I’ll frame up some small studies or drawings and sell a bunch of them at an affordable price. Most of my followers cannot afford to buy large oil paintings, but being able to sell these small studies has paid my rent in the past!
Besides art, what other career would you have chosen?
In undergrad I actually started out in business school. I think I could have ended up happy if I had continued as a marketing major. At 18 years old I had a hard time believing that though. Art was definitely the right path for me.
If someone played your life in a movie who would it be? Would it be a comedy, action film, drama or? …who would be the love interest if applicable?
I hear often that I look like Alison Brie (which is a huge compliment), so I would chooser her. It would definitely be a comedy, and there would be no love interest.
What are your favorite top 3 art spots anywhere?
The Whitney, the Vatican, and the Galleria Borghese.
Who is your top 3 all time favorite artists?
Marilyn Minter, Gustave Courbet, and Caravaggio.
(see the film we did on Youtube)