Juneau artist Christianne Carrillo won first place in the Juneau Arts & Humanities Council‘s 4th Biennial Juried Art Show for her oil painting, “Dearest,” the JAHC announced Friday. Rob Roys won second place for “Mother Night.”
The show, which runs through the month of June, was judged by Sitka artist Nicholas Galanin, who selected 14 works out of 51 submissions. Also featured are pieces by Timi Johnson, Carol Baker, Joy Lee, Teri Robus, Barbara Craver, Puanani Maunu, Elizabeth Knecht, Terri Gallant, Rachael Juzeler and Patrice Helmar.
Carrillo, who works as a graphic designer at the Empire, said she was honored to be chosen as the show’s first-place winner, especially considering her respect for Galanin’s work (Galanin’s solo show at the Alaska State Museum also opened Friday.) Carrillo said her painting, which shows a seated faun-like creature with a bloody nose, was inspired by her experiences in letting go of an intense relationship, and is intended to cause discomfort in the viewer. All of her work is meant to convey emotion, she said, and also pushes back against the idea of creating art as a decorative object.
“I aim to make the strange comment. I want to make you feel uncomfortable. I want you to think about it and I want you to be feeling anxiety,” she said.
Carrillo said her work often begins in literal form, as a thought or written expression; “Dearest” began as a pun.
“I am a one-liner kind of person and I’m an extremist. ... I’ll come up with one liners and I’ll turn those into a title, and from the title I’ll think of ways to say my feelings in the painting,” she said.
“Seeing Red,” Carrillo’s solo show, which opened at the JAHC Gallery in November 2012 and continued at Figment, also drew upon intense personal feelings, often pulling from things Carrillo had written in her diary. Many of the works incorporated typography and strands of yarn that had been pulled taut and directed at various angles -- all in bright red. In the center of the room, Carrillo placed the diary itself, allowing people to read it if they wanted, an experience she says was a real “adrenaline rush” for her in revealing herself to friends and strangers.
“That show was so scary for me... (but) it was a fun test to see the curiosity of people, like my family members.”
The art itself can be seen as a different kind of diary, Carrillo said, reflective of her desire to give voice to visceral thoughts, and to be honest and open with emotions on both ends of the spectrum.
Not everyone enjoys this type of honesty in art, however. One of the pieces in “Seeing Red,” which featured the word “F***” written in cursive script, really seemed to bother people, Carrillo said; more than one viewer apparently flipped the piece over to hide the offending word, and JAHC staff had to flip it back over when they left.
At the juried art show opening Friday, Carrillo said she watched people come up to her painting and frown when they saw it had been awarded first place. Their reactions didn’t really offend her, she said.
“I don’t care if people say it’s dark, that’s what I’m kind of going for,” she said.
Filipina-American Carrillo, who grew up in Juneau, said though she took art in high school and liked it, her interest in painting didn’t really take off until she was in college. In some ways, art was a kind of late rebellion against her highly structured high school years, she said, when she focused mostly on sports -- and on excelling.
“I was such a goody-goody. I never skipped a class in high school, not even on senior skip day,” she said. “Everything I’ve done is for my family, for their happiness, for them to be proud of me.”
After high school graduation, she headed to the University of Nevada Las Vegas and began a major in marketing. Her second year, she decided to go to school in Portland for a year, and there she met people who encouraged her artistic energies. By the time she started her third year of college, back in Vegas, she was hooked.
“I started to take it seriously when I got back to Vegas. I changed my major, I started painting more and I started having shows.”
As a first-generation American, however, Carrillo had to balance cultural and familial expectations with her personal goals -- something she is still working on. After college graduation in 2010, she made plans to move to LA, but came back to Juneau instead to work toward getting her mother moved from the Philippines to Alaska (Carrillo was raised by her father and step-mother, who both arrived in Juneau from the Phillipines when they were teenagers.) Toward this end, she currently works two jobs and lives with her aunt to save money on rent, with the expectation that she will be able to get her own place and support her mother after she arrives, until she gets on her feet.
With all of this going on, art often falls by the wayside, but Carrillo is committed to making it work.
“Art is my release from responsibilities, for me that’s my thing, that’s my part of my life.”
For more on Carrillo, visit misscmcarrillo.wordpress.com.
The JAHC Juried Art Show will be up through the month of June. Votes are currently being accepted for the People’s Choice award, which will be announced June 30 at 5 p.m. in the JAHC Gallery. June hours at the gallery are 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. daily.