By Cole Tracy
Belmont, Mass. — “Port of Entry,” Carol Wintle’s solo show at the Massachusetts Audubon Society of Belmont, is eclectic and surprising. An artist, psychologist and writer, Wintle incorporates this and many more facets of life in her emotional style of collages.
Unlike most people who produce art, she is not tied down by the singularity of one style, concept or approach. The show is didactic in a celebratory way; the collage medium was tested in all facets in this two-room exhibit. The pieces were selected from over five years of work, and do not have an overarching theme.
Arriving at the first wall, going clockwise (the artist’s husband informed me) are four pieces created throughout a cold spell (“Today’s Outlook”). In each, she uses a specific color to get at her emotional and physical state; she paints over the cutouts and creates intimate indoor spaces, which are equally revealing about Wintle’s interior decorating sense as her psyche. This combination of the outer representing the inner is a common line that runs through a large number of the pieces.
The collage is an explorative diving board for Wintle to express her feelings, create imagined spaces or address autobiographical events. Accompanying each piece is a title and a short write-up by Winkle, discussing some of the influences or intentions behind the piece while encouraging the viewer to take their own approach to the pieces. This type of open-mindedness is definitive of the work, playful and heartfelt. Wintle’s awareness of the collaboration between viewer and artist, the subjectivity of perception and universal themes of human existence are apparent, it brings a thesis to the work that is something along the lines of her personality or reality.
Several focused more on craft, in an almost childish style, which rawly addressed mourning mothers who had lost their children through violence, a topic she faced as a psychologist. Her experience transformed into these pieces, which directly address the psychological state of these mothers, and her empathy towards them is saddening and honest. Its title, “I Just Want to Grow Up,” furthers the idea that she is channeling these children’s foreshortened lives. The lines are squiggled and childlike, with depictions of small boys and girls holding hands surrounded by everyday objects such as houses and cars.
Other works deal more with imagery; taking a leap from one cutout she produces small worlds surrounding a theme. In “The Lion King,” she creates a large vertical kingdom of animals, brimming with tropical colors, animals colliding and lush forestry; the viewer is bombarded by the experience of vibrancy within nature.
In “Prison of the Mind,” one of my favorite pieces she creates a visual space for people going through a tough time. There are several windows within long corridors and many faces, with a specific focus on the eye; this shows how people are encapsulated by themselves, locked within their own mind.
With references as far spanning as city architecture, Byzantine mosaics and noir films, Wintle is an informed and intelligent art maker who takes risks with every piece. Her psychological level of art production is one of the most fascinating themes within the show; the lack of ambiguity, brutal honesty and emotion is a relief from much of the art being produced today.
(Carol Wintle’s “Port of Entry” exhibition continues through November 30 at the Habitat Art Gallery at the Mass Audubon Habitat Education Center and Wildlife Sanctuary, 10 Juniper Road, Belmont. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. For more information, call (617) 489-5050. For more information on Wintle, visit: http://www.collagebywintle.com.)