Summer-inspired art added to Vision Gallery The Chandler Arizonan

Summer-inspired art added to Vision Gallery

Summer-inspired art added to Vision Gallery
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By Kevin Reagan
Arizonan Staff Writer

A Phoenix artist’s summer-inspired paintings are adorning the walls of the Chandler Vision Gallery as the facility’s first new exhibit since it briefly closed for a few weeks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Caroline Estelle’s “A La Mode” collection of colorful works became available to view publicly last month after the city reopened its Vision Gallery again and allowed visitors the chance to soak up some culture while the community still recovered from the public health crisis.

The exhibit’s arrival not only marks the end of a, hopefully, closed chapter in the Gallery’s history, but it complements the changing seasons.

Many of the pieces featured in Estelle’s exhibit depict iconography reminiscent of Arizona’s summer season — melting ice cream cones, sweaty bodies, lazy days around the pool.

Estelle, a recent Arizona State University graduate, described her paintings as an exploration of how the human body interacts with the summertime setting.

“This exhibition focuses on imagery surrounding beach and pool culture including the fashions worn, the food and drinks consumed, and the attitudes of the participants,” she said.

Estelle relocated to Arizona a couple years ago and quickly took note of how residents reacted to the state’s blistering heat during the summer months.

The artist often observed her friends in their swimsuits lounging by the pool and used them as models for her uncanny, surreal images.     

“All of the figures in my paintings are dear friends and it was important to me to capture their personality within the attitudes of how they are rendered,” she added.

Estelle said she intentionally distorted the realistic qualities of her subjects in order to create art that’s seemingly bizarre and almost unsettlingly.

Some of the exhibit’s female figures appear disproportionate and contrast sharply with the beautiful beach bodies often portrayed in popular culture.

“My intention is to cause a bit of discomfort for the viewer so they can really contemplate the carnality of the figure before them and even draw comparisons between their own bodies and the bodies we see represented throughout art history and the media,” Estelle said.

Before attending art school at ASU, Estelle earned her bachelor’s degree from Penn State University in 2014. She’s won various awards and her works have been displayed around the world in places such as New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Ecuador.

Estelle said her recent work has been heavily inspired and transformed by her surrounding environment since moving to Phoenix. The dry, desert scenery has so many unique qualities, she said, and impacts the human body in ways that are unlike most other topographies.

“I have only lived here for about three years and I was so completely surprised by all of the beautiful colors within this desert landscape,” Estelle added.

Peter Bugg, the city’s visual arts coordinator, said Estelle’s paintings are a fascinating addition to the Vision Gallery as they encourage the viewer to take a deeper look at their own preconceived notions about femininity.

This artwork is almost a reminder that summertime should be a time of leisure without judgment or scrutiny over how others look in their swimsuits, he said.

“Through saccharine colors and hyper-realized forms, Estelle embraces the idealized notions of summery scenes,” said Bugg.  “Look closer and you start to notice that the bodies in the images are distorted and uncharacteristic of the idealized female forms found in advertisements and art history.”

“A La Mode” will be on display at the Vision Gallery, 10 East Chicago Street, until June 26. Admission is free.

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