• Caroline Wells Chandler: Close Encounters
  • Caroline Wells Chandler: Close Encounters
  • Caroline Wells Chandler: Close Encounters

Caroline Wells Chandler: Close Encounters

Caroline Wells Chandler is a prolific multimedia artist best known for his hand crocheted colorful queer arenas.  Stemming out of American folk art, psychedelia, and a 1970’s feminist craft history, Chandler’s brightly colored realms explore gender, representation, and the art historical canon.  Bridging fifteen years of making by presenting two distinct bodies of work, Close Encounters is the first time that Chandler’s earliest anatomical studies are shown in tandem with his more recent crocheted figures.  


Inspired by the writings of Jean Dubuffet and Art Brut, the artist gravitated towards studying the works of children.  In an attempt to gain a better understanding of reductive figuration and developmentally universal mark-making techniques, Chandler completed a series of intaglio prints by studying the case studies enclosed within Measurement of Intelligence by Drawings by Dr. Florence L. Goodenough. Flawed in many ways by today’s standards, this 1920’s text attempted to correlate intelligence with questionable evaluations of children’s art.  The drawings in this text were examined by the artist during his undergraduate studies to compose his earliest explorations of reductive figuration in a suite of twenty-seven intaglio prints. Stepping off the page and onto the wall, select figures translated into large scale graphite drawings will present and bridge Chandler’s anatomical studies parallel to his crocheted figures. 


Shape shifting trolls, orgins that radiate rainbow light from their genitals, and genderqueer centaurs are some of the helpers that compose Chandler’s lexicon of queer figures. At times Chandler’s bodies have no recognizable torso, face, or genitalia.  Reminiscent of lesbian icons like R2D2, Chandler’s B.E.R.T.S (Barreling Energy Resonant Transmitters) and their larger twins B.O.R.G.s (Bootylicious Orginisms Radiating Goodness) collapse figure ground relationships through a heterochromatic voyeuristic topper that seamlessly shifts between the psychedelic gaze and rainbow representation. Blurring the boundaries of the gender binary, humans and technology, and humans and animals, Chandler’s cyborgs function as consciousness expanding vehicles to experience the fullness of the self or selves by allowing the journeyer to transcend one’s subjectivity through the fluidity of the queer icon.  


Richard Dreyfuss plays Roy Neary in Steven Spielberg’s 1975 film Close Encounters of the Third Kind for which this show is named.  The film chronicles the life of Neary, an everyday blue collar worker, whose life changes when he encounters a UFO.  This experience results in an obsessive artist awakening for Neary. He radically alters his life by pursuing a specific form he received from his first visitation which results in a phantasmagorical reunion with the alien/other.


This show functions to subvert that heroic narrative while identifying with the obsessive nature of studying the forms that we are drawn to as artists.  Close Encounters is a show that explores how the forms we obsess over both consciously and intuitively in the origins of work become and transform into a realized ecstatic vision. 

Caroline Wells Chandler (b. 1985) lives and works in Queens, NY.  He received his BFA from Southern Methodist University (Dallas, TX) in 2007 and his MFA from Yale University in 2011 where he received the Ralph Mayer Prize for proficiency in materials and techniques.  From 2016-17 he was a recipient of the Sharpe Walentas Studio Program. He has had recent solo exhibitions at Mrs. Gallery (Queens, NY), Union Gallery (London, England), Andrew Rafacz (Chicago, IL), and Lord Ludd (Philadelphia, PA).  Recent group exhibitions include Choi and Lager (Cologne, Germany), Marinaro Gallery, (New York, NY), Dio Horia (Mykonos, Greece), and Kate Werble Gallery (New York, NY). His work has been featured in The New York Times, Hyperallergic, The Huffington Post, TimeOut, Juxtapoz, Modern Painters, Maake Magazine, and AEQAI.   He is currently represented by Andrew Rafacz Gallery.


Beginning in November, join us Fridays 6:00-7:00 for unique, free VIP tours of the 4 Solo Shows. Must reserve your spot ahead of time.

Tours sponsored by Mister Car Wash