Painting is simultaneously a deep connection to my subject and myself, and an oddly detached experience that brings up a host of insecurities. I tend to be drawn to my subjects, which are usually places, for reasons I can’t explain with words. I often have a strong sense of knowing and understanding, and deep affinity for what I paint. Though my subject matter is often not alive in the traditional sense of the word, it does indeed have its own life force. As I paint my subjects, they bring out my best and worst qualities as a human being. Playful creativity and love flow from my heart out through my fingertips to the paintbrush, while self-criticism, fear of failure, and shame swirl throughout my body. These two forces dance around each other within me and end up on display on my canvas, my soul naked for the world to see.
Cara Lai is a freelance illustrator, fine artist, and meditation teacher (www.caralai.org) living a nomadic life. She grew up in Belmont, Massachusetts, and was encouraged by her highly influential high school art teacher, Mark Milowsky, to pursue art as a career. She attended Rhode Island School of Design, graduating with a BFA in Illustration in 2007. In her post-college years she had a wide range of experiences with travel, employment, and self-exploration–she worked as an animator, an outdoor educator, did some freelance illustration, rode her bicycle across the country, ran several marathons, and became a psychotherapist; but the most formative of these experiences was simply sitting quietly for long periods of time in meditation. This cultivated a sense of compassion in her that brought her to study social work at the University of Vermont, where she obtained her MSW in 2015. Cara is forever grateful to her loving family, dear friends, and James, her partner in absurdity, for their continued love and support.