Carol Erb: Dominion
Artist Carol Erb sees the world a little differently, a world with the potential to be transformed. Her unique approach to photography through photographic montage results in a visual language that speaks to altered realities, time passing, and new ways of seeing. Her work has explored self-portraiture, family photographs, and landscape and for the past three years, Carol has been examining the animal world. Her project, Dominion, reconsiders the animal in captivity, surrounded by faux environments that shifts our thinking about their quality of life, but the work is also a metaphor for feeling constricted, neglected, and unseen. It’s timely and poignant in a world where the sense of isolation is permeating our culture.
Carol Erb was born and raised in Kalamazoo, Michigan, into a family that actively supported the local arts community. Saturday morning art classes and regular museum trips were a priority. The artist studied drawing, printmaking and photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and later received a BA from DePaul University. Carol worked as a financial analyst at an investment management firm in Chicago for 15 years.
In 1999, a move with her husband to California prompted Carol to leave the corporate world and revisit art through painting and drawing classes at the Brentwood Art Center in Los Angeles. A Photoshop class in 2012 sparked a change in her approach to the making of art. She returned to her early interest in photography, but in a new untraditional way that incorporates her past experience, acquired skills, and desire to communicate visually with passion, expression, and an individual style.
Erb’s images have been exhibited at the Center for Fine Art Photography, Phoenix Art Museum, Houston Center for Photography, Vermont Center for Photography, A. Smith Gallery, and Photo Place Gallery. In 2016, the artist was a finalist for Critical Mass, and was accepted to Review Santa Fe. Her work has been featured in Beta Developments in Photography, Square Magazine, Adobe Create, A Photo Editor, Foto Relevance, and L’Oeil de la Photographie. Carol currently resides in Los Angeles, California.
Like many people, I grew up with a fascination for animals. Storybooks, cartoons, puppet shows; our culture fosters the whimsical fantasy that animals are our friends. The truth is much darker. Animals are commodities that we use for food, clothing, labor, and entertainment. The Old Testament gave man a pretext for using animals to suit his needs. Modern civilization developed in ways to shield us from the cruelty and neglect with which we treat our fellow creatures. Today, attitudes are changing, due in large part to the long campaign of animal welfare groups that have worked to expose and question our exploitation of animals.
In each of my images, an animal has been removed from its natural environment and placed in a human space where it does not belong. The longing to be elsewhere is clear from the animal’s expression and confinement. Faded murals allude to a history of domestication and the way we can often fool ourselves into thinking of animals as extensions of our own needs and emotions. These animals are not at home here. Nonetheless, there is a disturbing beauty in their isolation.
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