Carolyn Blacker

Artist Bio

Born in Rochester, NY, I moved to Philadelphia in 1989 to go to art school at the University of Pennsylvania. I have always worked in arts related fields and while much of my time has been spent working to sustain myself, I have always made time for community engagement as well. In the early 1990’s I worked with many in the LGBTQ community to create quilt panels for the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt. More recently I have volunteered at a local family Shelter to provide art classes for children, and I have created small portraits of residents there which I have then given to them. Currently I volunteer with organizations and attorneys to create change to our system of mass incarceration. Today, I create large images of people or groups who have been marginalized, discriminated against, or abused. These are hand embroidered batiks, and hand sewn, large quilts, often with hand dyed fabric. These are unique processes not often seen in traditional arts venues. They are visible markers that shout out, ‘Look at me! See me!’ I meet with people who have been made to feel a deep sense of separation, a lack of belonging, and I try to understand their isolation and make them feel visible through friendship, portraiture, and community engagement through exhibition.Systemic, meaningful change can take time. It has become a cliché, but also a truism: change starts on an individual level. I believe that the most effective way to create change is to place the voices of those who have become invisible – the people for whom change matters most – at the center of my work. I want their faces to be seen and their voices to be heard. My belief is that people can see something of themselves in my artwork, for as Paul Klee wrote, “Art does not re-produce what we see; rather, it makes us see.”