Today we’d like to introduce you to Carla Falb.
Carla, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
Growing up on the East Coast, I was deeply involved in music since elementary school. At home, I spent hours practicing classical piano and even auditioned to play with the Philadelphia Orchestra. My playing was expressive, but unfortunately not entirely accurate! When I was a sophomore in high school, I began yearning for a more creative outlet to explore my identity, so I began focusing on visual arts. By my junior year, I became absolutely committed to becoming a painter, applied for early admission, was accepted to the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. After spending three semesters there, I realized that I wanted to learn traditional painting techniques, so I began taking my studio classes at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts – the oldest art school in the United States. Looking back, I realize that since I was a classically trained musician, I needed to study a more formal approach to painting.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
I have been working on a series of drawings and oil paintings based on roller coaster structures since I was a graduate student at the University of the Arts in 2002. Don’t be fooled by the subject matter of my work! I am not a roller coaster fanatic and don’t consider my work as solely depicting specific rides. The series is more about the layers of metaphorical meanings based on the coasters’ physical structure, sudden turns, extreme drops, and cyclical ride.
Overall, the structures serve as icons of our contemporary culture; reflecting the energy and complexity of our lives, and in an ironic twist, our obsession with escaping everyday reality. Roller coasters are designed primarily for sensory overload via a controlled-fear catharsis, launching riders into altered states of consciousness. All my work is based on photos that I take while riding in the front car. This idea was inspired by the legend of J. M. W. Turner, who insisted on experiencing a storm at sea by being tied to the mast of a ship, so he could later capture that feeling in his paintings. The rides symbolize a journey that connects our physical existence with the emotional/spiritual realm – from a pop-culture perspective.
In 2009, I received a Visual Artist/Educator Fellowship from the Dodge Foundation that funded my travel from New Jersey (where I was living) to visit Orange County and Los Angeles to photograph roller coasters at various amusement parks for my ongoing series. Actually, all my paintings of coasters from SoCal prior to 2017, were done in New Jersey, long before I realized that I would be relocating to Orange County.
That trip to Southern California in 2009 planted a seed. I realized that relocating to this area would be the ideal move for my artistic practice. The combination of the vital art scene with the popular culture of SoCal would provide endless subject matter for my studio work. Eight years later, I was excited to find an advertisement for a position teaching drawing at Fullerton College (literally minutes away from Disneyland and Knotts Berry Farm). I applied, was offered the position, accepted, and moved to Fullerton in July 2017!
What do you think it takes to be successful as an artist?
When I view other artists’ work, I seek connection. I want to relate to the work on an emotional and/or spiritual level. Because of this, I define success as an artist as being able to universally connect to viewers. My Roller Coaster Series can be appreciated on various levels: the subject matter, the technical proficiency, the formal qualities, the emotional metaphors, as well as the spiritual symbolism – something for everyone!
A combination of elements is essential to success as an artist. Being a teacher for over thirty years, of course, I value a quality arts education, along with plenty of practice. Some talent, intelligence, and a strong sense of self (authenticity) cannot hurt, either. If I need to choose one characteristic, after working with thousands of students over the years, I agree with Angela Duckworth, that “grit” – a strong inner drive (passion), and tenacity over the long term (perseverance), is essential to lasting success as an artist, or anything in life for that matter!
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
Online, people can see my work on my website – carlafalb.com or on Instagram – @carlafalb. I currently have paintings in two group exhibitions. Two of my paintings, one of the Ghost Rider from Knotts Berry Farm and the other of the roller coaster that used to be perched at the top of the Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas, are included in the Fullerton College 2018 Faculty Biennial, which is up until October 10, 2018. Gallery hours are Monday – Thursday 10 am – 12 pm / 2 – 4 pm. I also have a 24″ x 24″ painting in the Benefit Exhibition for Friends of the Rail Park, sponsored by the Bridgette Mayer Gallery, in my hometown, Philadelphia, which is up until October 5, 2018. Works from the exhibit are also posted online – bridgette-mayer-gallery.myshopify.com.
If people have questions, there is a contact link posted on my website, or they can send me a message via Instagram.
- Website: carlafalb.com
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/carlafalb/?hl=en @carlafalb
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carla.falb