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About Cara

Baltimore County

Cara Ober's picture
Cara Ober is a visual artist with a writer's addiction to words. Ober's narrative works utilize specific phrases and fonts to suggest multiple voices, perspectives, and time periods. Rather than illustrating the text, the images create discord and contrast, layering metaphorical and nonsensical outcomes over personal notation. Cara was a Sondheim Semi-Finalist in 2014, a Trawick Prize Semi-Finalist in 2012, and earned a 'Best of Baltimore' Award from Baltimore Magazine in 2009. She is a 2006 MD... more

Effigy Series

Although our earliest human records are estimated at around 5000 BC, historians admit to huge gaps and unanswered questions in current historical models. We know that there was a time before history, a pre-history where humans existed for tens of thousands of years. Although radiocarbon dating is effective for placing organic materials into a historical timeline, it’s useless for stone objects and buildings, the objects and structures that truly withstand time. What if historians have it all wrong and human history is much deeper and more complicated than current theories?

In an age and election cycle where many voters yearn for a mythical period of history where life was somehow better, Cara Ober’s new body of paintings, prints, drawings, and porcelain urns explore the possibilities of a time before time. Viewed through a collection of objects and images, Ober posits historical artifacts, both real and fake, against contemporary ones, creating a skewed and immediate timeline of visual symbol and layers. Within this context, history is no longer linear but cyclical, and the past and present collapse to influence one another.

  • Effigy #1

    Archival Digital Print, 20 x 24 inches, edition of 10
  • Effigy #4

    Archival Digital Print, 20x24 inches, edition of 10
  • Effigy #8

    Archival Digital Print, 20x24 inches, edition of 10
  • Effigy #7

    Archival Digital Print, 20x24 inches, edition of 10
  • Effigy #5

    Collage
    Archival Digital Print, 20x24 inches, edition of 10
  • Effigy #6

    Collage
    Archival Digital Print, 20x24 inches, edition of 10

The Tchotchke Series

This series of approximately 40 India Ink drawings feature a range of collectible items, from African masks to souvenir Coke cans and Jesus statuettes, all paired with quotes from a variety of sources. The drawings question the idea of collectible value, where some items are highly prized and in museum collections vs. others which have nostalgic and sentimental value. For me, I am interested in questioning why certain items end up in museums and others in the trash can and exposing the idea of value as an arbitrary and fleeting force.

Pop Deco

Regardless of taste or budget, the decorative impulse, the desire to enhance your physical appearance and that of your home, is universal. It connects us intimately to our distant ancestors. However, the contemporary practice of sampling has enabled an entire generation of artists to borrow freely across cultures and time periods, creating unique hybrids in a range from harmonious to jarring.

My visual work has always included a mash-up of decorative structures, culled from vintage wallpaper, textiles, ancient artifacts, and home décor. However, in the current body of work, I have chosen to focus exclusively on the patterns I have collected over many years in order to investigate their power. Rendered in a simple palette of black, white, and metallic paint, these ornamental embellishments are divorced from their original context and take on an iconic, totemic presence.

Arma Virumque Cano

India Ink on Cut Paper, based on traditional Greek Amphora forms

Glittering Generalities

The contemporary practice of sampling has enabled an entire generation of artists to borrow freely across cultures and time periods, creating unique hybrids in a range from harmonious to jarring. My visual work has always included a mash-up of decorative structures, culled from vintage wallpaper, textiles, ancient artifacts, and home décor.

My work exploits a range of opposites. I combine unrelated images and text to form layers of (mis)understanding, reinterpreting sentimental imagery through drawing, painting, and printmaking. I employ a collage aesthetic in all my work, although my materials include paint on canvas, collage on paper, gold leaf, and a variety of drawing media. Working in series, I combine culturally mediated imagery from children’s schoolbooks, decoration, historical texts, and greeting cards to explore notions of authenticity, appropriation, personal identity, and vocabulary.

In my text-based works, I create a visual narrative by utilizing specific phrases and fonts to suggest multiple voices, perspectives, and time periods. Rather than illustrating the text, the images create discord, layering metaphorical and nonsensical outcomes over personal notation. These works reveals the inadequacy of words in expressing the complexity of experience, and exploit the multiple meanings within one simple phrase, exposing the gap between meaning and language.

Love Letters Series

The contemporary practice of sampling has enabled an entire generation of artists to borrow freely across cultures and time periods, creating unique hybrids in a range from harmonious to jarring. My visual work has always included a mash-up of decorative structures, culled from vintage wallpaper, textiles, ancient artifacts, and home décor.

My work exploits a range of opposites. I combine unrelated images and text to form layers of (mis)understanding, reinterpreting sentimental imagery through drawing, painting, and printmaking. I employ a collage aesthetic in all my work, although my materials include paint on canvas, collage on paper, gold leaf, and a variety of drawing media. Working in series, I combine culturally mediated imagery from children’s schoolbooks, decoration, historical texts, and greeting cards to explore notions of authenticity, appropriation, personal identity, and vocabulary.

In my text-based works, I create a visual narrative by utilizing specific phrases and fonts to suggest multiple voices, perspectives, and time periods. Rather than illustrating the text, the images create discord, layering metaphorical and nonsensical outcomes over personal notation. These works reveals the inadequacy of words in expressing the complexity of experience, and exploit the multiple meanings within one simple phrase, exposing the gap between meaning and language.

I Love to Love You From Afar

Cara Ober's 'I Love To Love You From Afar' series of mixed media drawings on paper explore the relationships between personal and collective sexual fantasies. On hand-drawn notebook paper, Ober references the schoolgirl crush and the diary, and creates a tableau for confidential revelation integrated with public messages. In each drawing, Ober renders the face of a person she has personally fantasized about, one for each year of her life, and combines it with vernacular language from pop songs, poems, and Harlequin romance novels.

With humor and poignancy, Ober contrasts the inherent artificiality of the fantasy with the authentic emotional weight it carries. Functioning both as talisman and shameful secret, Ober's fantasies hold a mirror up to the dual nature of public and private life and expose a blurred boundary between one's secret longings and mass media imagery. Mixed media includes graphite, colored pencil, ink, and gold leaf on Johannot printmaking paper.

  • Grid of 15

    On hand-drawn notebook paper, Ober references the schoolgirl crush and the diary, and creates a tableau for confidential revelation integrated with public messages. In each drawing, Ober renders the face of a person she has personally fantasized about, and combines it with vernacular language â?? from pop songs, poems, and Harlequin romance novels. Each approximately 9x12. Gold Leaf, Ink, and Colored Pencil on Paper.
  • Michael Landon

    On hand-drawn notebook paper, Ober references the schoolgirl crush and the diary, and creates a tableau for confidential revelation integrated with public messages. In each drawing, Ober renders the face of a person she has personally fantasized about, and combines it with vernacular language â?? from pop songs, poems, and Harlequin romance novels. Each approximately 9x12. Gold Leaf, Ink, and Colored Pencil on Paper.
  • Matthew Barney

    On hand-drawn notebook paper, Ober references the schoolgirl crush and the diary, and creates a tableau for confidential revelation integrated with public messages. In each drawing, Ober renders the face of a person she has personally fantasized about, and combines it with vernacular language â?? from pop songs, poems, and Harlequin romance novels. Each approximately 9x12. Gold Leaf, Ink, and Colored Pencil on Paper.
  • Woody Allen

    On hand-drawn notebook paper, Ober references the schoolgirl crush and the diary, and creates a tableau for confidential revelation integrated with public messages. In each drawing, Ober renders the face of a person she has personally fantasized about, and combines it with vernacular language â?? from pop songs, poems, and Harlequin romance novels. Each approximately 9x12. Gold Leaf, Ink, and Colored Pencil on Paper.
  • Isaac from Love Boat

    On hand-drawn notebook paper, Ober references the schoolgirl crush and the diary, and creates a tableau for confidential revelation integrated with public messages. In each drawing, Ober renders the face of a person she has personally fantasized about, and combines it with vernacular language â?? from pop songs, poems, and Harlequin romance novels. Each approximately 9x12. Gold Leaf, Ink, and Colored Pencil on Paper.
  • Mister Rogers

    On hand-drawn notebook paper, Ober references the schoolgirl crush and the diary, and creates a tableau for confidential revelation integrated with public messages. In each drawing, Ober renders the face of a person she has personally fantasized about, and combines it with vernacular language â?? from pop songs, poems, and Harlequin romance novels. Each approximately 9x12. Gold Leaf, Ink, and Colored Pencil on Paper.

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Cara's Curated Collection

This artist has not yet created a curated collection.