lives in Chicago
Andrea Carlson’s sculptural installation Never-Ending Monument, a configuration of wooden totems that recall effigy staffs, plays with perspective and horizon as well as the body’s shifting sense of space. It complements a multipanel drawing, Cast a Shadow, that also shifts as the viewer moves. This drawing, layered with pop imagery, graphic flourishes, and multiple styles of lettering, is unified by a consistent horizon line, a characteristic element throughout Carlson’s 2D work.
These works and Carlson’s overall approach are grounded in histories of place. The sculptures cite the silhouetted figure of the Man Mound, a 214-foot-tall ancient earthwork in Wisconsin that is now fractured by a road. The drawing’s imagery also refers to noncolonial histories foundational to these lands and the Great Lakes region in particular.
Placed within Cleveland Public Library’s Brett Hall—the former reading room of the main library—Carlson’s visual vocabulary represents a counterpoint to William Sommer’s monumental 1933 mural The City in 1833, which dominates the room’s north wall. This permanent painting hearkens back to an idyllic, imagined golden era in Cleveland’s past—one that elides other histories, including earlier Indigenous settlement of the region. Carlson’s work installed here suggests how art making can question and challenge canonized narratives and ways of moving through the world.
Andrea Carlson, Co-commissioned by the Toronto Biennial of Art and FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art and made possible with the generous support of the Women Leading Initiative.