Listen Here | A short play about watching shadows move across the room Audio Description

A short play about watching shadows move across the room (2023) is a mural by Caroline Kent commissioned for the Queens Museum Large Wall. The mural consists of five layers of painted images and sculptures that begin with an all-black base. Painted over this foundation are figures that Kent calls “shadow shapes.” These large shapes vary across black tones lighter than the background yet retain the function of a shadow.

Interacting with these shadows, Kent layers colorful forms that overlap, intermingle, and butt up against each other. Hand-painted over these forms, the fourth layer incorporates “floor plans” — Kent’s own drawings that invent domestic spaces. The final layer consists of five 3D wooden sculptures in abstract shapes that hang from the wall. Together, the mural “moves through planes of space — from blackness, to shadow, to flat surface, to relief.” The Large Wall becomes a site for scenography where Kent renders the shapes as characters, props, and/or architectures themselves.

Caroline Kent is an abstract painter and text-based artist whose large-scale works blur notions of language, sculpture, and performance. Reminiscent of her connection to Eastern Europe, where she spent time in Romania as a Peace Corps volunteer, Kent’s pastel palette lends itself to improvisation and a reconsideration of the power and limits of language: what is told, heard, and what ultimately remains unspoken.

Kent’s work channels personal experience and her cultural background to widen a historically marginalizing discourse of abstraction, and she exploits emotional mark-making to manipulate the rhythms and tone of communication. Through an expanded form, Kent opens a realm of possibility for linguistic experimentation while leaving room for meaning that is silent, secret, and coded.