Artist Spotlight: Carrie Beth Waghorn

Carrie Beth Wahorn is a contemporary artist specializing in monochromatic renderings of the female form. Both raw and expressive, her work invokes an unadulterated sense of feminine beauty and vulnerabilty. She currently paints from her sunny studio in Charleston and will be in our upcoming group exhibition, Bloom Boom Boom! 

Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Ervin

MVG: What is it about females — their faces and their forms — that draws you in? 

CBW: My inherent fascination with the female form began in college via my art history classes. We studied the ideal female form throughout history, and it was fascinating to see how the ideals of beauty differed according to different time periods. One of the most primitive carvings of a woman is a full figured bust — I believe its titled “VENUS of Willendorf,” one that symbolized fertility and strength. When I look at females, I primarily am attracted to bodies that don’t follow the status quo of what is considered to be ‘normal’ beauty. Instead, I love women with contrasting or striking features, like a plethora of freckles or hips like Beyonce. I love all shapes, sizes, and lines. All women are works of art.

MVG: Why ink as your medium of choice? 

CBW: If there is one thing you should know about me it is that I am obsessed with contrast. Also I am terrible at decision making. India ink has such a rich feeling to it, each line feels like a triumph. Being an expressionist AND a minimalist, it’s important for me to have a medium that reflects both; as a fluid, it absorbs quickly and it is permanent. I find that when working with this medium, I am forced to be confident in my brushwork and bold with each stroke — this is a stark contrast to my sometimes timid, overanalyzing, indecisive self. With ink, there is no erasing, no re-working, or changing. What’s done is done. In this way, I can be fearless with my paintings.

MVG: Any in-studio rituals that get you in the mood to create? 

CBW: Some of my rituals are private, though I can say whenever I can properly align my energy it feels as though I am coming home to myself. The deepest most intimate part of my existence occurs when I paint. There is a bit of music and writing, a bit of pacing back and forth, and some odd gestures that release anxiety. My body finds the natural urge to move freely and fall into yoga poses based on my thought process(es). It is all very much a free flow which I hope emanates through the fluidity in my work.

MVG: Artist(s) you idolize, living:

CBW: Oh man … I like a LOT of people… I admire artists for different reasons, some for their work and some for their fearless approach or genuine presence — I can say that I’ve always been a fan of Dorothy Shain for her creative tenacity. I recently discovered Laura Deems and am smitten; her work reminds me of Tim Hussey, who is another contemporary favorite. I can honestly say that we are so lucky to live in a city with artists that I genuinely like — Chambers Austelle and Sara Pitmann. Another recent favorite are the art deco faces, and especially the pottery, of Paige Follmann.

MVG: Artist(s) you idolize, dead: 

CBW: Matisse, Picasso, and ultimately Toulouse Lautrec. There is something about seeing Renoir in person that makes me just want to stare in awe for hours, though I am partial to the more whimsical colors of Toulouse and the unfinished lines of Egon Shiele.

MVG: Perfect Charleston day: 

CBW: A perfect day for me includes waking up well rested, interpreting the previous night’s dream, sipping coffee whilst naked in the sun with my cat, a bike ride (NOT during the month of August), painting with the sunlight in my studio, coffee with friends, and a home-cooked meal (followed by a sweet treat from Saffron Bakery).

MVG: Anything exciting on the horizon you want to let us know about?

CBW: WORLD INK PROJECT. Who wants a romper??!!! I am SO excited to be pairing up with local creatives to transcribe my artistic ideals onto clothing. I just hope I can be ready…


Look for new work from Carrie Beth in March, as part of Bloom Boom Boom!, a group floral exhibition.