In 2016, Miami-based artist Christopher Carter developed an elaborate plan for a highly personal home, studio and exhibition space. The ecologically-sensitive environment would serve as a living laboratory for all his design and artistic projects. During the design and construction, Carter followed the same deliberate process that he would use when creating one of his sculptures. Completed in 2020, this innovative architectural assemblage located in Miami’s North Wynwood neighborhood, is the subject of a new exhibition opening May 15 at NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale. The Carter Project, on view through January 9, 2022, examines what Carter describes as “the largest, most comprehensive functional structure I ever dreamed to make.” The exhibition is curated by NSU Art Museum Director and Chief Curator Bonnie Clearwater.
Carter rarely uses anything new. Rather, he chooses to use recycled woods, metals, glass, resins and other discarded objects, that when united, challenge traditional concepts in innovative ways, pushing materials and objects out of their intended purpose into new and surprising vernaculars. The result is a consistent and direct design that displays a balance between form and function. The live/work/exhibition space reflects Carter’s connections to Afrofuturism and the Japanese wabi-sabi aesthetic, which embraces imperfections. Its design evokes a Northern California loft ideal whose carbon footprint-reducing structures were constructed with industrial and reclaimed materials, including six used shipping containers that house some living areas and art production studios. “I think of it as an adult treehouse or fort for the different facets of my art practice,” Carter notes.
The multi-use structures and property, which are represented in the exhibition (through videos, photography, drawings and a 3-D printed model), reflect Carter’s ideal use of space. Its multiple locations for introspection, privacy and a sense of solitude, buffer its inhabitants from environmental pollution and serve as a filter to the outside noise and activity. Yet, they do not completely isolate them from the neighborhood surrounding the property, which in the last five years has seen gentrification, mutation and stagnation as well as boundless optimism, positive opportunity and growth.
Bonnie Clearwater noted, “Having worked with other artists who ventured into architecture, such as Frank Stella, I was intrigued by the idea of documenting and exhibiting Christopher Carter’s process in an exhibition since he first shared his vision with me in 2016. He approached the concepts of structure, environment and sustainability with the creativity and freedom of an artist. We hope that The Carter Project will inspire others to question conventions and imagine new solutions to living in today’s environment.”
Augmented reality features in the exhibition will create enhanced opportunities for visitors to explore The Carter Project’s interior and exterior spaces.
Christopher Carter was born in Albuquerque, NM and was raised in Boston, MA. He currently lives and works in Miami, FL. Infused by a blend of ethnic and urban influences, Carter’s bold and organic sculptures strongly reflect his African American, Native American and European heritage. His assemblages embody power and energy accentuated by the source materials he selects for his creations. Carter has an MFA in Sculpture from the University of California, Berkeley and a BFA from Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). His work has been featured in numerous museum exhibitions, galleries and art fairs, and is included in private and public collections including the National Museum of African American History and Culture-Smithsonian in Washington, DC.
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Exhibitions and programs at NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale are made possible in part by a challenge grant from the David and Francie Horvitz Family Foundation. Funding is also provided by the City of Fort Lauderdale, AutoNation, Community Foundation of Broward, the Broward County Board of County Commissioners as recommended by the Broward Cultural Council and Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Arts and Culture and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture. NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale is accredited by the American Association of Museums.