Carrie Moyer: Interstellar

February 11 - August 19, 2012

carrie moyer the tiger's wife

My paintings may have become less explicit, but my ambition to seduce viewers into reflecting on their own conditions – optical, physical, historical and otherwise – remains undiminished. Painting is a very intimate delivery system.

Carrie Moyer’s painting practice over the past two decades has been shaped by her identification with the radicalism of art, politics, and feminism of the 1960s-1970s, as well as her formal training in both painting and computer graphic design. Moyer’s deep engagement with the medium’s potential of melding beauty and message and her exploration of the roles of illusion and content in abstraction have identified her as one of painting’s most innovative contemporary practitioners.

Moyer’s post-modern approach to abstraction creates connections between human history and contemporary experience. She challenges the autonomous tradition of authorship at the heart of modernism by openly engaging the iconographies and processes of other artists, cultures, and periods resulting in paintings that create chains of non-hierarchical associations across time, media, and ideologies –prehistory and modern, graphic arts and painting, Color Field abstraction and Surrealism. “Painting,” Moyer has said, “is about intersections in history.”

In paintings from The Stone Age and Arcana series (2006-2009), nearly recognizable silhouettes evoking prehistoric figurines and ceramic vessels, helmets and headdresses, insects and bones, emerge from lush layers of poured acrylic, incidents of glitter, and passages of fingerprints. With these canvases, Moyer achieves a fusion of graphic clarity and abstract mystery, expertly integrating areas of bare canvas, defined contours, illusionistic shadows, and uncontained pigment into unique hybrids: “I wanted to marry the flatness of poster space to the more sensual signifiers of painting.”

Moyer’s painting process is a highly choreographed performance that includes pouring, patterning, staining, and drawing. Layers of contrasting stylistic, color, and spatial relationships regularly subvert our expectations of how a painting was made, as well as which gestures were premeditated and which were intuitive. Canvases from the Canonical series (2011) move away from the flatness and icon-like motifs of the earlier works; complex compositions of sinewy lines, shifting spaces, and biomorphic forms embrace ambiguity and instability. With the introduction of a palette inspired by the natural world of sunsets, woods, clouds, and turquoise skies (following stays at the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire and a trip to New Mexico), Moyer’s floating, touching, and interpenetrating shapes suggest spaces in which body and landscape commingle.

Moyer (b. 1960 in Detroit), who received a BFA in painting from Pratt (1985), a MA in computer graphic design from New York Institute of Technology (1990), and a MFA in painting from Bard (2001), is on the faculty of Hunter College. She resides and works in Brooklyn.

Learn more about Moyer at

This exhibition is supported by the Don and Mary Melville Contemporary Art Fund.

Artist Talk
Thursday, April 19, 6pm
Conference Room, Higgins Education Wing
Free with Museum admission
Join artist Carrie Moyer as she discusses her work, now on view in the Contemporary Gallery through August 19. This is the first museum exhibition to survey canvases from the past decade of Moyer’s impressive body of work.
WAM is open late on the Third Thursday of each month. Other programming happening the same evening as Moyer’s talk is WAM’s Third Thursday AFTER HOURS,  from 5:30-8pm, which will feature folk music by Thea Hopkins in The Museum Café.

Select Images from the Exhibition

carrie moyer carrie moyer carrie moyer carrie moyer carrie moyer carrie moyer carrie moyer carrie moyer