• Alexandra Hemrick

'Nature is Watching Us' September 3, 2021 Studio Visit with Candace Caston

' I feel like nature is watching us,' she says. Tall pines in her painting tower over a human form, and over us outside the window.

Today I had the honor and pleasure of visiting the studio/oasis of Candace Caston (@candaceincolor), a SCAD grad based in Atlanta, GA.

Driving up to Candace's studio, I immediately feel her deep connection to and with nature. A bounty of flowers and plants occupy space everywhere they can. Inside is just as gloriously decked with succulents and hanging plants adorning large windows. Nature is evident from every vantage point.

She mentions in our first moments her interest in weather and the connection between humans and nature, but as we continue talking, it's clear it's personal. Caston and her family, from New Orleans, had to leave as a result of Hurricane Katrina in her teens. She recounts thinking at the time that she would return home to blow dry her deluged UGG boots, and her mother telling her that they wouldn't be going back. That chapter, her home, forcefully closed to her by nature. Most of her collegiate work revolved around the loss of her possessions, a part of the process that helped her tap into the universe, and bring forth much of what has been bubbling in her subconscious.

She feels now, that her work hits upon more omnipresent themes emerging from the drastic change to her life course that has continued to impact her perception. I'm struck by a painting she did of a woman, clearly feeling tension, sandwiched between a volcanic eruption on the TV reflecting fiery tones on her face, and a serene scene outside her window. Another, a vision of one version of herself staring at another as gale-force winds blow palms behind. I know Candace feels this tension too, a love of nature delicately balanced with the experience of its deadly power. Caston's bold and thoughtful paintings are a force of nature themselves. They shake the viewer to think and feel, but at the same time exist as tender and intimate reflections, and I can't wait to see more.

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