San Diego, CA-based artist Ivonne Carley’s enthusiastic penchant for blades might give one pause, if one didn’t know the sort of slicing and slashing that she indulged in. No, this knife-wielding creator is not lurking around shadowy corners chuckling low, awaiting the throat of an unsuspecting passer-by. No, indeed! Ivonne instead has translated this fondness for sharpened edges into an elegant artistic medium for emotive storytelling, with a current focus on paper-cutting and silhouettes – designed to “connect all things in the planar depths of simplicity and translating it into the emotional balance between the dark and the light.”
Still, I like to imagine her cackling softly, as she deftly creates each small cut.
(With apologies to the artist–this intro is not intended to imply that Ivonne Carley might cut a bitch.)
What twisty (or twisted!) artistic path led to this current focus on paper-cutting and silhouettes? From the time that she was a small child, Ivonne shares, she had a propensity for being fairly accident prone–always the one getting hurt, falling, sticking her hands where they didn’t belong. After a traumatic compound femur fracture as a child which landed her in doctors offices quite a bit, she gained a more than passing familiarity with the medical world– and was of course terrified of anything pointy and prickly. Then, she notes, tattooing and piercings in her 20s changed that all up! “That said,” she adds, “I have always had an interest in the medical realm but not as a career path, so I guess is this one way to scratch that itch.”
“Wielding something sharp, toying and creating with a fetishist undertone. Playing with danger.”
Silhouettes were of interest to her because she enjoys the idea of attempting to tell a story through shadows, texture, light or lack thereof. “There is is much room for the imagination, leaving the idea open to interpretation of who is viewing it.”
Ivonne’s art is influenced by an interest in the kooky, spooky, occult, and her Mexican heritage. In her pre-teen years, she relocated from Southern CA to Mazatlan, Mexico with her family and lived there for nearly seven years. It was during her time there that she began to explore her interest in art and expose herself to a more culturally appropriate representation of Mexico as well as the art and traditions that are part of that culture. “I was always drawn to high contrast imagery such as lino block printing like the work of Jose Guadalupe Posada. Eventually I became exposed to the art of papel picado, and while it is done for many celebratory occasions, the ones that came around during Dia De Muertos always appealed to me the most.”
Also noting a profound love for religious iconography of all kinds, (one of the few things that stuck around from the Catholic influence she was raised with), Ivonne ruefully adds that “the rules that came with religion never really agreed with me and it bred a lot of defiance and push-back; it only made sense that I found myself swaying towards a darker inclination. It just feels more accepting and comfortable.”
With regard to classic artistic influences, Ivonne lists Salvador Dali, Frida Kahlo, Remedios Varo, MC Escher, and Bosch amongst her key inspirations, and also shares a few current artistic crushes (many of which, I might add, are beloved of the Haute Macabre staff as well!): Elsa Mora, David Stoupakis, Mark Ryden, Darla Teagarden, Christopher Michael Hefner, Nicolas Bruno, Menton3, Becky Munich, Tom Bagshaw, Daniel Martin Diaz, about which, Ivonne enthuses, “I can keep going, here! There is just so much damn awesome talent these days it blows my mind.”
Add all this to Ivonne’s never-ending love for “all things Halloween” and, she declares, “…it’s a tiki drink of spooky. You take it all in and one mug later you’re wasted on the awesome.”
I requested of Ivonne a virtual studio visit so that we might see the workspace where these delicate dissections and compositions take place, and if that weren’t pushy enough (you can’t take me anywhere) I asked if she might be moved to divulge any of her artistic routines and rituals as relates to her creativity and craft. Ivonne has kindly spilled a few secrets below (and no doubt has given us a few items to add to our collective wish-lists!)
“My studio is a really small portion of our house. Currently I reside in San Diego, in a quaint little Tudor style cottage with an arched purple door. I share it with my husband, our daughter, and our two feline familiars Gomez and Judas. Due to the nature of my work, I need a lot of natural light so I have a desk that faces a large corner window, looking out to the front of our street. I try, (“try” being the operative word) to keep a relatively clean space but I find paper piling up a lot, until it is time to make a new piece. I have kept the bed that belonged to my departed canine companion under my desk for several years now. I like to keep that space available in case her pooch specter decides to pay a visit.
My ritual usually involves a pretty thorough cleaning of my desk because it eventually turns into paper scrap and confetti central. I usually set the tone with burning some incense of sorts. My personal favorites are: Vampire Blood (I know, cheesy as fuck but it smells so good), Papier d’Arménie, Palo Santo, sage or copal resin I brought back from our travels in Guanajuato. Olfactory tone is so important to me so not only will the room be fragrant but my personal fragrance will reflect my mood and headspace as well. I love all things Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, and recent favorites are: The Manuscript, Riding Crop Single Note, So Below, and Bulgarian Tobacco. When not doused in that precious, I usually wear By The Fireplace by Maison Margiela Replica, Oud Velvet Mood or Baccarat Rouge 540 from Maison Francis Kurkdijian.
I am an absolute audiophile and cannot function without music in my life. Every part of my day involves music and what I listen to depends on mood, emotion and setting a tone. Creating art has to go hand in hand with music, 100%.
My taste is pretty broad but most of what I listen to falls under the umbrella of IDM, shoegaze and electronic genres. Here are a few things I have listened to (read: played into the damn ground) while creating…”
The Soundtrack to Only Lovers Left Alive
Cigarettes After Sex
Nothing (their whole catalog)
Drab Majesty – The Demonstration
Slowdive (all the Slowdive)
Ben Lukas Boysen – Spells
Author and Punisher
The Haxan Cloak
Lights Out Asia
and always and forever, The Cure
I can keep going here…it sounds all snobby but I also love me a good session of pop, 80’s, His Purple Highness and hair metal bands \m/”
Since we are on the subject of rituals, Ivonne recently created some splendidly witchy pieces for Ars Memoria’s Toil and Trouble show in April of this year. Regarding how this theme inspired her specific contributions, Carley explains that “Toil & Trouble was a lot of fun to work on because the subject just felt so comfortable. Working with Catherine Matthews as a curator was a breezy dream and the other two artists involved, Bella Harris and Sophia Rapata – we all had a similar umbrella to work under. We agreed on a witchy and magical theme and I took on the concept of the magical being and their familiar; their relationship and connectivity. This was new for me, as most of my work has been incredibly human and feminine in nature… but this time around I opened up to the incorporation of animal elements. This was my first time venturing into more three dimensional work and I couldn’t have been happier with the work produced and the manner in which it was received.”
Between the work she conjured for Toil & Trouble, and Reliquary, her duo show with Carrie Anne Hudson in October of 2016, Ivonne found herself requiring a small creative break. “Reliquary was very intimate in nature”, she observes, “and for me, personally, there is such thing as too much output especially when you’re creating work as a form of personal therapy. I took a step back this year to continue doing more soul searching and really focus on quality over quantity.”
Aside from several group shows she has lined up, and some potential collaborative work, she is taking the month of August off to spend in Japan with her family–and is very much looking forward to the inspiration that will come from it. After that, she concludes, “Fall and the Halloween season always bring on the most inspiration for me, it is after all the most wonderful time of the year! I expect my shop to be filled with lots of goodies by then.”