A painter, teacher, curator, and writer, Cara Ober layers drawing, painting, and printmaking into mixed media works that examine and reinterpret sentimental imagery. 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.
Recent Solo Exhibits include Pluperfect Tense at Randall Scott Gallery in Baltimore in 2016, You Always Were a Headache But You Never Were a Bore at Gettysburg College in 2014, Translation at McDaniel College in 2013, and Pop Deco at Civilian Art Projects in Washington, DC in 2012. Ober was a finalist for the Bethesda Painting Awards and a Sondheim Semi-Finalist in 2013. Her work has been featured in The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, Apartment Therapy, Washington City Paper, Baltimore City Paper, Washingtonian Magazine, Hamptons Magazine, and US News and World Report.
Cara Ober earned an MFA in painting from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2005 and a BA in fine arts in 1996 from the American University. From 2010-2012, Cara was the online arts and culture editor at The Urbanite Magazine. She has penned art reviews for Art Papers, ARTnews, Hyperallergic, and BurnAway and teaches at MICA and Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. Ober has been the founding editor at BmoreArt, Baltimore's online print journal, since 2007.
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.
In my most current series of paintings, 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.