An Interview with Cara Levine

By her account, Cara Levine (BFA '07) has had thousands of jobs since she graduated from Stamps. Yet this Bay Area artist sounds unusually peaceful and grounded, with work that is a substantive and compelling balance of both studio practice and social engagement.

Witness Cara’s current teaching of both undergraduate sculpture at CCA, and ceramics to disabled adults at Creative Growth. A look at her work, whether in sculpture or videos that document spatial performances — body versus object, object versus wall, curious forms in spaces — confirms this duality.

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An LA native, Cara took a year after high school to work with a ceramic artist in Segovia, Spain. Learning the discipline required in a rigorous studio practice, she notes, enabled her to fully embrace the rigor of the conceptual aspects of the Stamps curriculum. Balancing concept with craft, Cara continually asks what is important about making. She confirms that she would not be an interesting person without the intellectual component, and that she would not have a place to put the inspiration without the studio practice.

Following study at Stamps, Cara went to work in production and construction at the internationally known Fabric Workshop in Philadelphia, and then to Chicago before beginning graduate studies in sculpture at CCA. Along with two colleagues, Cara won a prestigious IMPACT award for Social Change for the project Social Craft. Then the CCA project team headed to Bangalore, India to partner with the Sristhi Institute of Technology (and Stamps MFA alums Zack Denfeld and Gabe Harp, along with alum Allison Byrnes, who is still in Bangalore.)

Together, they worked on a project examining “home” as a site of learning (in contrast to the academy). Students built and used a house to study its physical structure, its relation to the body, and its ritual use. They called on local professionals (a skilled homebuilder, a matriarch, a Vedic architect, and a real estate agent) as adjunct professors and collaborators. The end result: students began to recognize and appreciate homes as physical, intellectual and spiritual spaces that people belong to.

At the completion of the project, Cara returned to the Bay Area where she finished school. Then drawing on her undergraduate experience with social engagement at Stamps, Cara used her own interest in yoga to help others find the balance she so values. She has taught yoga to at risk youth as well as to disadvantaged women.

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Teaching five days a week, with every other Wednesday off, Cara uses weekends, evenings, and her Wednesday free day for studio time. Now she’s looking forward to February - April 2014 when she will have the uninterrupted time for a sculpture residency at Anderson Ranch in Colorado. Till then of course, the balance — between the world and the studio, between materials and body — is all part of the work.

For more info on Cara Levine, visit caralevine.com.

 



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