Growing up in the architecturally rich and historic city of New Orleans, artist Carlie Trosclair wasn't easily impressed by clean, tidy and new construction. To Trosclair, true architectural beauty lies in the ornate and weathered buildings that rose up in the Crescent City during the 1800s and early twentieth century. It's the same way in St. Louis, where Trosclair has lived since 2008 when she arrived to attend grad school at Washington University.
Last year Trosclair created an installation at 3531 California, a house in south city, that focused on the various layers of wallpaper, paint and dirt that accumulates on and in a century-old house. Now in a new installation at the Contemporary Art Museum (as part of the prestigious Great Rivers Biennial), Trosclair continues to respond to St. Louis' fading architectural glory.
"When I moved to St. Louis I found the same rich textures within the layers of peeling paint, rusty metal and deteriorating wooden structures," she says. "Naturally I fell in love with the red-brick castles in my neighborhood in Tower Grove East; their intricate brick design and bold colored trims as well as the deteriorating homes."
One house in particular -- at 2900 St. Louis Avenue -- inspired her interest in St. Louis' decay and abandonment; almost fittingly, the house was torn down last winter. Trosclair believes Americans have become too obsessed with modernity, with age and grit becoming symbols of poverty, just as sterile and uniform architecture has become a symbol of wealth and success.
"Our society has a panicked way of covering up age, not showing scars, upholding a very particular and refined image of beauty. Modern and shiny architecture in other cities feels cold and unwelcoming to me. There is something more honest and vulnerable about an old city."
Read more about Trosclair's work around St. Louis.
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