Caroline Kent's first solo museum exhibition opens at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

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Caroline Kent's first solo museum exhibition opens at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
Installation view, Chicago Works: Caroline Kent, MCA Chicago Aug 3, 2021–Apr 3, 2022. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

CHICAGO, IL.- The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago is presenting the first solo museum exhibition of multidisciplinary Chicago-based artist Caroline Kent, featuring a new, site-specific installation that transforms the MCA galleries into an immersive domestic environment with Kent’s large paintings as the centerpiece, and colorful walls, architectural features, and everyday objects such as furniture and houseplants. The exhibition takes as its starting point a fictional set of identical twins who communicate telepathically across the two distinct rooms using a secret language of repeating geometric shapes and abstract forms. The twins are united by the language they share, with traces of their conversation traveling across the surfaces of paintings and walls and into three-dimensional space. Kent’s invented language encourages visitors to explore their own codes and conventions for describing the world around them. Chicago Works: Caroline Kent is on view at the MCA from August 3, 2021 to April 3, 2022 and is organized by MCA Assistant Curator Jadine Collingwood.

Kent investigates the social conditions of language through painting, sculpture, performance, and installation. For Chicago Works: Caroline Kent, the artist explores the abbreviated forms of communication that develop in intimate relationships such as those between sisters in her large, abstract paintings and other media.

Inspired by the experience of communicating with her own twin, Kent develops a new language based on a secret visual vocabulary. Kent’s works often begin with improvised geometric shapes she cuts from sheets of paper and organizes into dynamic arrangements. Creating shapes and compositions that are both familiar and new, Kent’s playful paintings keep definitive meaning just out of reach.

As Kent transfers her visual language to mediums such as sculpture and installation, she examines how meaning shifts in the process of translation. Kent’s shapes appear in different contexts throughout the MCA galleries, including an architectural void cut into the wall, a small marking on the spine of a book, an ornamental insert in a pedestal, and an impression hardened into cement. Reevaluating the legacy of abstract painting—an often vast and opaque space—Kent opens new opportunities for intimacy, connection, and affiliation.

Caroline Kent is a Chicago-based visual artist who explores the potential and the limitations of language, and ultimately questions the modernist canon of abstraction. Caroline Kent earned a BS in Art at Illinois State University (1998) and an MFA at the University of Minnesota (2008). Kent has exhibited nationally at Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Flag Art Foundation, NY; DePaul Art Museum, Chicago; California African American Museum, LA; and Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Kent is a 2020 Artadia Chicago Awardee, and has received grants from Pollock Krasner Foundation, McKnight Foundation, and Jerome Foundation. In 2018, she was a Fellow at Paint School, a New York-based program of Shandaken Projects. Kent is Assistant Professor of Art, Theory and Practice, at Northwestern University, IL. She is represented by Casey Kaplan Gallery in New York, Kohn Gallery in Los Angeles, and Patron Gallery in Chicago.

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