William Carson's art: The unbelievable art of coal

I've been lucky enough to have the opportunity to write for CAMIBA Art Gallery. In 2017, I wrote my first catalog article for them, Fragile Beauty. William Carson's exhibition, entitled Unearth was a celebration of his works with coal. Read on to learn more....

Fragile Beauty

Maybe it was the deep textured blackness on the wall beckoning us to take a closer look, or the subtle crackling of the rock when anointed with water that engendered our silence or maybe even the box with black and shiny objects that Troy held out to us to touch that astonished in its hard richness.

No, this was not some secret ritual but perhaps one of the evocative gallery openings to be held in Austin, Texas in quite some time. CAMIBAart is showcasing the remarkably innocent and fresh William T Carson along with his artistic medium of choice: Dark black coal.

This juxtaposition between the artist and his medium is entitled UNEARTH.

The astonishing use of fresh coal to make a deep and personal connection to our very humanity is first evident in the composition of the rock itself. Humans share 5 basic elements with coal: carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and sulfur.
Carson unwittingly provides the unexpected surprise of helping us to contemplate our own fragile beauty through his works of coal, these 60 million year old artifacts of our history. His canvas’ show the profound presence of the coal itself as solid and dense, while, at the same time exposing it’s fragility, it’s ability to break and yet be contained.

Coal tells a visceral story of our past, it is not only the keeper of the fossils of an earlier planet but, as Carson reveals to us, when gently anointed with water, will speak to us, not unlike the murmur and crackling of a campfire…

The opportunity to hold and caress these satiny nuggets is not to be missed. Their deep shine forged from eons of time are perhaps the closest we can come to feeling our own fragile beauty.

Cecilia Garrec

September 14, 2017


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