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"Wabi Sabi" works by Miani Carnevale at the Warner Gallery

by Carola Lott
Thu Feb 25th, 2016

"White Root" by Miani Carnevale

It is always interesting to follow an artist as he or she evolves. When we last saw Miani Carnevale’s work in 2013 at the Millbrook School’s Warner Gallery, her exhibition “Convergence” was for the most part comprised of large abstract paintings in rich luminous reds and yellows. Mixed media pieces were also included in the show.

“Wabi Sabi,” Carnevale’s new exhibition at the Warner Gallery, mostly features more mixed media works. Her paintings are now predominantly in neutral shades of taupe, pale yellow and brown with subtle surface textures creating much of their interest. 

In her artist’s statement, Carnevale defines Wabi Sabi as “the beauty of things imperfect, impermanent and incomplete; a concept, world view and way of being… It finds beauty in imperfection and accepts life’s natural cycle. It is a way of life, a spiritual path and an intuitive way of living.”

A graduate of the Ringling School of Art in Sarasota, Florida, Carnevale also studied art in Oslo, Norway, and Florence, Italy. For 30 years she has given a series of workshops to help people find the courage express themselves through their art. 

The majority of the pieces in this recent exhibition are carefully composed arrangements of objects Carnevale has gathered from the natural world. Walking through the woods or on a beach, she says, “I put out a call, ‘what wants to come back with me to be given new life as a work of art?’  I then keep my eyes and heart open to what responds. Materials then reveal themselves that I might have otherwise overlooked or ignored had I not first put out that call. Only working with materials that have been left for dead, my work speaks of resurrection, rebirth and ascension.”

Whether it’s three rounded rocks arranged in a simple wire basket and placed on a strip of kilim carpet, or a collection of found objects seemingly placed at random on the shelves of a shadow box, one is struck by how carefully and precisely each object has been situated both in relationship to the other pieces as well as to the surrounding space. 

It is also remarkable how many variations Carnevale can create just with seemingly dead branches that other people might overlook. For “White Root,” for example, she has transformed a tangle of roots into a complex piece of abstract sculpture;  from materials she titles “Snake Curved Limb with Grass Bundle” Carnevale has fashioned a graceful installation; while “Dancing Branch with Red Bead” is a complex composition formed of the twigs and branches from a tree. On one branch rests a ball of twisted wire while attached to the tip of the branch is a cinnabar bead. 

One should also mention how skillfully a variety of disparate forms have been installed to create a unified composition throughout the gallery.