Nathan Eugene Carson is our highly celebrated RBC Artist in Residence. Beginning with a sprawling installation over our lobby wall in 2022, Black Carnival Audience was a sea of curious faces drawing visitors in to Carson’s extensive installation that now occupies the David Braley and Nancy Gordon sculpture atrium, on view until April 30, 2023.
Carson has created over 100 paintings and drawings of carnival characters over the course of his residency so far. Many are larger-than-life extraordinary figures, that visitors are drawn to for the many possible stories that could be taking place.
Carson is inspired by memories of visiting a carnival at Hamilton’s Centre Mall on Barton Street. His father would bring him regularly in the 1980s and he was enthralled by the spectacle. He was curious about the uniqueness of those who populated the carnival and became aware of how the ‘carnies’ were perceived and understood through their differences and otherness.
His depictions made during the residency have evolved to include references to his everyday encounters in downtown Hamilton, in celebration of difference and the thought that human bodes are vessels—working with the idea that souls come through his works, arriving to him during his process.
The collective gaze of Carson’s characters is powerful, and their vulnerability is turned outward and open for discussion. Their otherness is not a spectacle—rather they are wondrous and curious set of engaging characters, set out by the artist as an open-ended conversation.
Image: Installation view of Nathan Eugene Carson, Black Carnival, 2022-ongoing. Art Gallery of Hamilton, 2022.
Artist in Residence Program presented by
Gallery Level 2 is always free admission, courtesy of Orlick Industries.