Charlotte Schulz's early drawings look like Narnia folded into a Tim Burton-esque suburbia. The shadows and highlights melt, as though Dali got a hold of some charcoal after waking up from a dream where he was a little girl hidden away in a house full of looming trees and winding staircases. This is her shadow work. The highlights are few and far between.
Her most recent exhibition exalts maximum contrast—the highlights gleam white while the shadows disappear into an abyss of vacuumed space. In place of the moltenslide of Schulz's earlier work, her more recent drawings fold in with razor-sharp contrast. Schulz has moved from a dreamscape to the equivalent of an earthquake zone's fault line, or particularly here, to a floodplain.
Despite Irene's relevancy to this piece, “the flooding drawing” (as Schultz calls it) was a reaction to Hurricane Katrina. Her present concentration focuses further on linking personal experience with world events. Since the creation of her earlier work, Schulz feels that in order to exist authentically, it is necessary to integrate personal experience into the collective experience, “like your traumatic event is a collective traumatic event.” Because Schulz's drawings serve as a space in which she can process personal experience with the external footing of global affairs, she would love to think of her drawings as a form of activism where other people can meet and do the same through them.
It was when Schulz moved to the crowded city of Boston that she relinquished the need to start intrinsically with a house image, which had dominated her art until then. Schulz began interweaving seemingly opposing concepts like inside and outside, further shedding the view that these constructs were rigid and easily distinguishable from each other. Her compositions began to dissolve intimate personal space into historical happenings in an amalgamation of architecture, weather, and landscape.
Since 2005, Schulz has turned from single-panel images to multiple-panel drawings in order to concentrate on exploring the tensions between real and imagined space. Her focus remains narrative and space, although now she works on the sculptural potential of paper, first by folding the paper, then following the folds with charcoal, allowing the piece to initiate its own direction. Schulz emphasizes that the absence of matter remains indispensably integral to its presence—the space within the folds of the paper is valued as essential to the artwork. “Things that are folded in still want to be included,” Schulz says. “So I think: What is not in the image but still wants to be included?”
The uneven intensities of duration: suspended in the midst of an encounter with a flood, the unknown past carries itself into a current location and pressures a rescue from geographical forces and another of Charlotte Schulz's charcoal drawings on paper will be on display through November 27 in a group show at the Dorsky Gallery in Long Island City.
"The uneven intensities of duration: suspended in the midst of an encounter with a flood, the unknown past carries itself into a current location and pressures a rescue from geographical forces."Charlotte Schulz, charcoal on paper, 34" x 40" x 4", 2010