Ladies Choice is an ongoing series highlighting female artists working in New York City and beyond. This series honors the power and ingenuity of women in the arts. Women have traditionally received much less exposure and recognition in the art industry. In their support of one another, these women stand as a testament to furthering the careers of female artists.
Carla Weeks uses pattern as a means to story tell. Her bold geometric works can be found painted on everything from canvases and textiles to walls and floors, transforming and enhancing the spaces they make home. Drawing from a wide-range of experiences and diverse background, Weeks’ practice defies categorical norms. British-born Weeks now lives and works in Philadelphia, PA.
You are part of a young generation of female artists gaining recognition for their work. What does being a part of a strong female community mean for you?
Making a living as an artist at a time when women are being recognized and often highlighted feels fortuitous and exciting. I’m surrounded by female friends that have developed creative work and businesses alongside mine, and in many cases, there seems to be an unspoken understanding that we’ll offer support to one another. However, I do think it’s important not to isolate ourselves too much from the talent and support of the male contemporaries that surround us, because equality comes when we work together.
Which female artists, living or dead, inspire you most?
Agnes Martin, Anni Albers, Gunta Stoltz, Sonia Delauney, Nathalie du Pasquier, Faye Toogood, Sarah Crowner.
I come from a design background dominated by women, so I have always been very conscious of the presence of women fueling creative industries while men often continue to hold the power positions at the top. As a painter, I have chosen to surround myself with the work and words of those that inspire me, many of whom are women. In addition, I work with Uprise; a NYC based gallery with a female founder, Tze Che, and one that represents many female artists.
Have you noticed a change in opportunities available for female artists since you first entered the art world?
I’m new to the ‘art world’ in my current capacity (having been painting full-time for only 3 years), however I recognize that the last decade has seen an important growth in the way our culture views women, across all creative industries. I feel very grateful to be supporting myself with my work during this time.
If you could change one thing about the current landscape for working female artists what would it be?
To see greater value placed on creative work by women. It’s easy to go down a path of accepting little or no money to engage with projects that sustain work flow, and I think due to patterns entrenched in our culture, women tend to undervalue their work more easily than men. I hope that as attitudes and societal norms continue to change and evolve, more women (and other minority groups) will feel comfortable asking for equivalent pay to their white male contemporaries.
Have you found more opportunity to work in the US rather than your home country of England?
I moved to the US a long time before I started painting, so I can’t really speak to the difference in opportunity. Culturally, I find Americans so much more willing to share personal ideas and struggles involved in their art practices, leading to more vulnerable conversations. I tend to default to hashing out problems in my head for too long, so this is a lovely attitude to be exposed to.
Can you tell us how you first became interested in patterns?
I’ve always been drawn to pattern as a distinct form of expression within different cultures, and over time I’ve managed to develop my own methodology. For me, pattern is a language I use to capture a sense of place and record significant memories.
Your works are made both on contained surfaces and in spaces that are a bit freer, i.e. walls, floors, etc. How does the creation process on a canvas vs. in an open space differ? Is there one that you enjoy more?
Both types of work provide a framework for processes that I really enjoy. My paintings allow me to have more autonomy as I experiment with technique and work through more complex ideas in the quiet of my own studio. The murals are naturally more collaborative, bringing me into a more outwardly engaging environment where it is imperative to consider the audience’s experience of the work.
Some of your designs have found their way into the retail sector, in the form of wallpaper and clothes. Is it exciting to know that your work has spread beyond your studio and found its way into the homes of many?
I enjoy the collaborative nature of working with designers that have the production skills I lack, and it’s interesting to see how my design work can reach a larger audience while helping me to make a living as a working artist. I am still figuring out how to navigate the parallel worlds of my painting practice and my design work. They are inevitably intertwined, but I think of them as very different entities.
What’s next for you? What are you excited for?
I’m interested in finding new ways to engage with audiences in collaborative art-making methods, while maintaining my personal painting practice. I want to continue to define each area of work while allowing them to feed into each other. I’m not exactly sure how that looks yet, but I’m excited to carve out my path with the support of friends and collaborators.
At the end of every interview, we like to ask the artist to recommend a friend whose work you love for us to interview next. Who would you suggest?
Three women that I admire for their thoughtful, engaging work, and whom have provided support to me as an artist during my time in Philadelphia: