Discover: Caleb Charland
There’s one day I return to with this work, it was probably the summer of ’89 somewhere on the edge of July and August. Since before my memories began my dad spent his vacations pounding nails and sawing boards, making his mark. His life was work and our house his medium. He seemed so alive atop a ladder with an arm load of 2x4s. On this particular day we got up early, we always did when there was lumber to cut. I remember the smell of sawdust at daybreak, watching the particles scatter in air like a golden summer snow.
I was nearly nine at the time and learning there was something magic in those materials. Snapping the chalk line expelled electric blue nebula. A mishandled hammer drew sparks from a nail. I also remember watching copper piping engulfed in a propane halo emit lime green meteorites in all directions. These moments hover in my consciousness as visual echoes of the cosmos revealed to me then in steel, dust, and flame. If each picture is a puzzle the pieces formed that summer day.
By exploring the world at hand, from the basement to the backyard, I have found a resonance in things. An energy vibrates in that space between our perceptions of the world and the potential the mind senses for our interventions within the world. This energy is the source of all true art and science, it breeds those beloved “Ah Ha!” moments and it allows us to sense the extraordinary in the common. The fact that I can make dots on my hands then simply invert the colors to create a night sky affirms that even within the well tested laws of science there are, and must always be, pathways to reinterpretation and discovery.
Growing up in rural Maine, Charland spent much of his childhood helping his father remodel their family home. These experiences instilled an awareness of the potential for the creative use of materials, and the ability to fabricate his visions. Charland earned a BFA in photography with departmental honors from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in 2004 and an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago as a Trustees Fellow in 2010.
His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and is in the Collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Progressive Collection, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. In 2008 Charland was commissioned by the Progressive Corporation to create several new works in response to the theme of “Innovation” for publication in their 2008 annual report. Working closely with Progressive’s corporate curator and the president of the publishing company Nesnadny and Schwartz, Charland exceeded all of the project’s goal’s and fulfilled all deadlines well ahead of time. Charland currently lives in Maine and works at the Maine College of Art as an artist in residence.
Thanks for sharing your work with us, Caleb.