Joyful is the dark

Caroline Kent | June 2016


Joyful is the Dark is a selection of large scale paintings, works on paper and text based works that explore painting as site. In 2014, Kent returned to abstract painting after a 3 year hiatus, during which she pursued subjects of representation, narrative, occupation and presence through mediums such as sculpture, video and drawing. With a renewed interest in abstraction, Kent began making works that function as studies in an effort to define a painting language. This on-going collection, now consisting of 80+ works on paper, serves as a catalog that other works can be produced from.

One body of work that comes directly from the catalog are her most current large scale paintings that measure around 6’ x 9’. These paintings are not only a translation traversing a shift in scale but also in form. Starting from an all black ground the paintings emerge out of a flatness of cosmic space and altered dimensions, inhabited by an array of illuminated shapes, motifs, and patterns. Pithy unrehearsed marks intersperse with stenciled forms that lose their clean registration throughout, producing an unrehearsed affect of slippages.

Joyful is the Dark also includes works that reflect Kent’s investment in language. The literary as well as film subtitles and closed captioning appear throughout her work. Appearing in the exhibition is a vitrine, which displays a series of abstract paintings on paper with textual commentary accompanying. Dry, wry, and coy quotations provoke the viewer to connect word to image, but Kent’s objective is rather to consider alternate potentials in the relationship between the two.

**In conjunction with the exhibition is an essay by Christina Schmid titled Close Encounters with the Dark, a self-published text. This publication is still available at $8/each, contact Tricia Heuring /tricia@publicfunctionary.org / to order a copy by mail or arrange pick-up at the gallery.**



Since receiving her M.F.A. in 2008 from the University of Minnesota, Caroline Kent has participated in numerous exhibitions including the California African American Museum, Los Angeles, CA, The Suburban, Chicago, IL, The Washington Park Arts Center, Chicago, IL, Elephant, Los Angeles, CA, and SUNY Duchess in Poughkeepsie, NY.

Kent received the Jerome Fellowship in 2009-10. In 2012-13 she was a Creative City Making grant recipient. Kent has received the Minnesota Artist Initiative Grant, twice in 2010 and more recently in 2015. She is a 2015 recipient of a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant and most recently a 2016 recipient of the McKnight Artist Fellowship in Visual Art.



Black steers all varieties of brightness into the shade, darkening and deepening lighter hues. Likewise, we can begin to see—through a glass darkly, so to speak—the random and formless as virtues. It is from this dark formlessness that Caroline Kent’s paintings emerge.
— Craig Olsen, MNartists


Artist Website



Photo Credit: Rik Sferra