When I met Caroline Jacobson, initially, I was a little intimidated. She’s tall and beautiful and looks like she knows something I don’t. I’m 5”4 and look like I haven’t slept in a while, so this could have been problematic, but instead she said she wanted to paint me. I was struck by the way she seemed to see something in me that I had never been able to see myself. What was more was that she actually meant what she was saying. She talks like she’s reading a passage from some book I was supposed to read in middle school; there seems to be something incredibly innocent about what she has to say. It’s quite endearing when you realize the kind of work she does. Caroline is a Chicago-based painter hailing from the good old state of Indiana whose work portrays women in a way that the Get Born Girls seriously respect. Being strong, driven, and a woman is badass, and Caroline encompasses all of that. The ladies portrayed in her pieces are beautiful and complicated, just like the best of us, and we think her girl power mentality is something to be reckoned with. Empowering women is COOL and the way that Caroline explores female sensuality in her work has our lady bits feeling some type of way. Peep her interview and some of her work below, and get ready to see some big things from this girl in the near future.
How did you get into painting and how old were you when you started?
I had always kind of dabbled in the arts growing up, but I never considered that being an artist could be a reality for me. But I’d definitely say that being in business school ultimately got me into painting. I mean, I learned a lot of extremely valuable practical knowledge, but I was SO BORED. At that time, I was watching my girl Hannah Siegfried get really into photography and she was [so inspired] building so much creative momentum. Watching her honestly inspired me to drop out of business school and spend my last three semesters of college in mostly art classes. Since I chose to create, it has really been a matter of building confidence.
Who/what other art would you say inspires you? (this could be music, movies, anything)
I have always been very inspired by different figure painters but I have always gravitated towards artists whose work elicits a strong emotional response or a sense of empathy from the viewer. The first time I saw Francis Bacon’s piece “Figure with Meat” hanging at the Art Institute of Chicago, I immediately became obsessed with his work. He and Egon Schiele have really influenced my work from a relatively young age. My favorite artists right now are probably Kerry James Marshall, Cindy Sherman, Marlene Dumas, and forever Henri Matisse.
Where do you do most of your painting?
I do most of my painting at my grandmother’s studio that she so graciously lets me use. She is a collage artist so her studio is filled with boxes and boxes of just beautiful things she has accumulated over the years. The ‘flower’ box is filled with a ton of dried flowers that her grandmother had picked from their farm in Wisconsin in the late 1900s. It’s just a beautiful place to be able to create!
Where do you go to get inspired in Chicago?
Thrifting/antiquing! But literally Chicago architecture is out of this world beautiful. The lines of the Second School of Chicago are soooo clean and amazing. The sunsets here are crazy beautiful, to say the least.
We noticed that you mainly do portraits of women, is there something about the feminine aesthetic that you really love (because we think its fucking awesome)?
Well I pretty much popped out the womb as a baby feminist. So there are many reasons that I paint mostly women, but I’d say a big part of it has to do with my frustrations with how women have been represented in art and literature throughout history. I really just want to represent each women as a whole fucking person. I want the viewer to see the rawness and importance of their humanity. I’m basically trying to create empathy in the viewer.
Why paint? Why is that the medium that you chose?
I took a painting class in the spring of 2013 and I fucking hated it. We were doing a bunch of weirdly set up still lives and I didn’t really understand how to use paint or how to mix colors. It wasn’t until 2014 that I began to like it. I’d definitely say drawing was truly my first love. A lot of my work has become a mixture of drawing and painting, but the more I paint, the more magical it becomes to me. But I don’t really stick to any one material. I love oil paint, but I go through phases of heavy experimentation with different drawing/painting materials. Its really fun and I see it as myself making a mental bank of things I can later fuck around with more.
But if if you’re asking me why I paint, I’d say its because it really scares the shit out of me. It continues to challenge me in a way that nothing has before. I am a person that is VERY capable of doing absolutely nothing, like trust me, yah girl can lounge hard. But painting is the only thing that has made me want to not do nothing. It’s the only thing I’ve ever really cared about.
If you had something that you were trying to say with your art what would it be?
I want to empower women! I want to show female sensuality as something that is natural and beautiful as opposed to making them the “enigma.” My main goal is to challenge and break down gender roles to create space for the individual.
Where do you see yourself and your work in the near future? Professionally, what is your goal?
I can feel myself going into another big exploratory phase so I see my work changing a lot this year. I didn’t start painting really until 2014 so I have a lot of time to grow and evolve! My short term goals are to get my work shown more! Getting the opportunity to show my work is the best feeling for real. Having people connect with my work makes me feel so whole!
We saw on your website that most of you work has been sold. Tell us about that.
Ya girl’s got to eat, bruh.
What are you working on right now? Any big things coming up for you?
Well right now I’m working on some nude self portraits that explore the line between being sexual and being sexualized. So they have a lot to do with how the viewer interacts with the subject being a naked woman, and whether they find that she can exist in an ‘erotic’ context while maintaining her agency. I’m also learning how to woodwork because building furniture sounds dope af to me. I’m also looking into doing some post baccalaureate work, but we shall see!
Whats your poison?
Fucking thin mints.
Favorite things to do in Chicago?
I love to thrift and hang with my bitches!
What was your first screenname?
icegirl0626, but no lie, I had some pretty embarrassing ones after that.
Blondes or brunettes?
Doesn’t matter to me! Just do you! Rihanna looks amazing in all hair colors.
Sobriety or celibacy?
Weed never did me wrong.
Nicholas Cage or Nickleback?
National Treasure Nicholas Cage is aight
Bob Dylan or Bob Sagett?
Bob Sagett is 6”4 and has connects to the Olsen Twins, so def him.
When I was 13…
I was obsessed with My Chemical Romance and Ashanti. Lol I blocked most of middle school out of my memory.
What superpower would you want?
I wish that when I touched something it would turn into money like in those old skittles commercials.