“I like kids’ work more than work by real artists any day.”
I was watching my three-year-old son, Apollo, joyfully paint our entire kitchen table with free-flowing rainbows and gold handprints. He was fully in his zone, laughing with delight at the tactile sensation he felt while squishing the paint between his fingers and watching the colors blend and collide.
At that moment, I felt an incredible distance from his innocence. Like most of us, I am wrapped up in processing and unraveling the day-to-day since March, tapping into the most serious parts of my mind and running marathons there for indeterminate periods of time.
“Children make things from the heart.” That was a note I had written to myself before interviewing the painter, sculptor, and installation artist Nathan Carter. A reminder to myself to find the spiritual essence of unprogrammed integrity in daily life. My interview with Nathan unexpectedly revealed itself as connected to the note I had written before we spoke.
Nathan told me, “When I was a kid, I drew and built my worlds a lot. I would make maps and models of places. I would mix toys together and there was a lot of masking tape, pencils, matchboxes, thread, string, and Elmer’s glue—sticking legos to pine cones and things like that. I think, as an adult, as a childish adult, I’m still doing that storytelling through drawing maps of places and world-building.”
Whimsical, thought provoking, yet also straightforward, Nathan extends an invitation into a world where different colors, shapes, and languages exhort you to participate and reimagine. This is something he also applies to his relationship with cooking—as something he incorporates into the life of his studio. Lots of different dishes, full of color and flavor passed around and shared.
One of my favorite parts of our interview was when we spoke about the nonverbal communication between parents and children around the dinner table; the moments of beauty we find to share with those we love, sometimes over hot pockets and milk. “There’s lunch on the table...it might just be like plates of hot pockets with carrot slices and glasses of milk…. The oldest one is making a painting and the youngest one is building a car out of a piece of cardboard...I'm working on something and there’s tools, glue guns, and food, and I remember taking stock of this and thinking...there is so much love in this scene.”