a solo show by

Carrie Pearce

Curatorial Summary 

Simard Bilodeau Contemporary is pleased to present The Merry Makers, a solo exhibition by Illinois-based pop surrealist painter, Carrie Pearce.  This collection offers the viewer a peak into the fantastical mind of Pearce, who perceives reality with a childlike curiosity and finds magic in the forgotten, the strange, and the macabre. As The Merry Makers leads the viewer down a yellow brick road of sorts, he or she will be transported in to the world of Ina, a child whose imagination and wonder have lifted her out of personal tragedy, and the muse of this collection of work.  What follows are words from the artist, herself:


These paintings are about the magical world of make believe and imagination, which bring us hopes, dreams, fears, and wishes. Inspired, by a photo of a little girl in a full body cast, arched like a rainbow surrounded by her toys. Seemingly, being carried by her toy elephant. Ina is her name, and she was hospitalized from ages two through twelve. Due to a rare form of Tuberculosis, she underwent dozens of surgeries to fuse her spine and was in a cast the entire 10 years. Her parents were only allowed to visit once a month. She had only her imagination, nurses and a few toys. Ina is 89 and healthy. She was a seamstress, crafter and doll maker.


There are several characters in these paintings; Ina, as a child, fastened in to her cast/cocoon with her beloved toys; future Ina, her imagined self, as ballet dancer wearing a crown, crafting a merry world of disassembling dolls and toys and gluing them in cat dolls and lion rabbits; a younger future self, seen as a seamstress who has to cut her hair due to the suckers that got stuck there. Pins and Needles is inspired by an antique pin doll cushion. She is the villainess with spider web hair that traps the candy and toys (which represent the joys and rewards of life). She is seen with her son, Dum Dum, a boy made of doll parts and suckers. Boss hog is in charge of the candy and is inspired by an antique piñata. Monkey boy is her loyal imaginary friend that would do anything for her. The vintage Halloween costumes of Dumbo and Sleeping Beauty are the do-gooders trying to “save” her.


I would like my paintings to inspire people to use their imaginations. There is no story that can’t be told, real or imaginary. I would also like to bridge the gap between fine art and pop surrealism, I feel as if I am somewhere between the two, and not sure where I “fit-in”. 


Alongside Pearce’s paintings, Simard Bilodeau Contemporary is featuring a collection of her inspirational found objects and photographs, in order to allow the viewer to further immerse him or herself into the artist’s process.  These strange, wondrous, and potentially even grotesque emblems of the past, which Pearce collects during her spare time, are the sparks behind her creations. Around them she forms a narrative, perhaps borrowing from historical figures or events, perhaps creating a fictional fantasy. The viewer is invited to be propelled by the mystery of these objects, just as Pearce is.


This solo exhibition of eleven paintings promotes imaginative faculty on the viewer’s behalf. Pearce’s work leaves no choice but to wonder who, what, why, when, and how? The innocence and naiveté of Pearce’s work end at its inception. Supporting her childlike storytelling is a foundation of technique and precision, influenced by 16th century masters. Pearce’s palette incorporates mahogany and sepia tones which speak to the antique and vintage influences in her work, while pops of vivid color conjure joyful feelings of a child’s birthday party, or more profoundly, the importance of lightness and glee amidst darkness and tragedy.