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An Interview with Nora Carey
By Clayton Ruley is committed to a rebirth of thought through art and culture so we always try to give people the opportunity to express themselves. This time we sit with Nora Carey, an artist from New Jersey who has a love for the visual arts! (GC) : Tell us your name and how long you've considered yourself an artist?


Nora Carey (NC) : My name is Nora Carey; I also go by Nora Bella, and LexIcon.


GC : Specifically what kind of art do you do and how did you get into that particular art form?


NC : My forte is painting, I definitely love it and have been doing it the longest. I also work in collage, sculpture and installation. Beyond fine art I also have a clothing line, and write and perform music (mostly soul, hip hop, and funk).


GC : Where are you from and where are you trying to go?


Little Make-up Face

NC : I was raised in Medford, New Jersey, which is about 45 minutes east of Philly. Philly was always a destination for me when I was growing up because I felt so trapped in Jersey. Also my sisters lived here when I was in high school so it was my way to escape and be free by hanging out with them in the city, at art galleries and bars.


NC : I'm trying to go as far as I can with my abilities. I also would really like to make a name for art in Philly because it's teeming with every kind of art imaginable. Some say that's a tall order, or even impossible, but nothing great was ever done out of self-doubt. Immediately I'm trying to find some good galleries to show in, and also work in my studio as much as possible. Eventually Id love to travel all over the world and have international shows. I know that's not too far away as long as I don't stop creating.


GC : Were there any inspirations and/or mentors then and now in regards to your art?


NC : O my god of course. I'm sorry but I have to say Madonna because she's just a force of nature and lives life on her terms and always follows her creative urges, she's a brilliant businesswoman too. My grandmother was the first one to put a brush in my hand so kudos to her. There are just so many artists, musicians, and people that keep me and my creativity breathing. As far as contemporary art Jeff Koons, Lisa Yuskavage, Wangechi Mutu and Ellen Gallagher are some artists I love. Old school artists I love would be Louise Bourgouis, Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali, Alphonse Mucha and Marcel Duchamp. Philosophers like Baudelaire, Hegel, and Simone Debeuvoir. One of my instructors named Dr. Kevin Richards was incredible. And musically, whether I'm listening while I'm painting or writing it Mary J. Blige, Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, Outkast, The Fugees, The Cardigans, Bob Dylan, Nina Simone, Billie Holliday, Bjork, the list goes on and on but my new favorite is Gnarles Barkley!


GC : Is this something you picked up naturally and/or did you receive any training?


NC : I just received my graduate degree in Fine Arts, an M.F.A. from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, so I've had a fair amount of training. But it's funny because it's true the more you know the less you know. The more I learn about art the more I realize I have more to do. Whether you're trained or not I think the most important thing to do, as an artist is to do as much work as possible all the time.


GC : What motivates you to do your art?


NC : Well all the stuff I said 2 questions ago, but mostly myself, my reactions to my environment, and experiences. A lot of my work is based around women, though I'd consider it post-feminist as opposed to feminist work. The mass media and consumerism in our country, and my own reactions to it, trying to salvage my soul from it motivates me a lot. It exposes my flaws and weaknesses: violence, sex, and humor.   Also I can't imagine having to do anything else everyday for the rest of my life and not getting sick of it.


GC : How long does it take you to do your thing and is there a particular process you do consistently?


NC : How long you got baby? Just kidding. I can finish a nice painting in an hour, but then I have some I've worked on for one or two years. It is the same with my collages. Sometimes the simplest work takes the longest because you through everything into it then edit everything away. I'd say my process changes but I usually make a loose plan on how to begin a piece or series and begin but always allow for changes and moments of inspiration, frustration, and elation.


GC : How do you wind down? Celebrating (drinking), eating, sleeping, or sex.


NC : I've also been known to spend two hours on myspace after I get out of the studio.


GC : What can you say about your experiences in Philly and other places you've shown your work?


NC : I've always had great experiences showing my work. The first place I ever showed was Soma on Third Street between Market and Chestnut (its now called A Bar Named Sue) when I was about 21. It was so amazing to see my work up somewhere and I loved the bar and one of the DJs bought one of my pieces. I've had a bunch of shows since then in galleries and its always exciting.


GC : What do you really like to work with (objects, tools...etc) when you do you work?


Climbs Faces

NC : I love to work with oil paints on canvas or linen. I love to use magazines, all kinds from Vogue to Japanese porn when I do my collages. I usually use acetate to paste or glue the collages on. I love translucent materials. In my painting and my collage I ALWAYS use this stuff called Galkyd. I love it! It's this stuff that kind of looks like and has the consistency of honey. Technically its known as an alkyd resin. I use it in my paintings to make things look shiny or make layers dry faster, and then I use it in my collages to adhere the images to the acetate and also create some goopy texture. Ill use anything though if it appeals to me, for instance I used over a hundred condoms filled with water to do this one installation.


GC : Can you tell GeoClan about your current and Future project(s)?


NC : Well I'm always working in my studio and I'm working on a portrait of Natalie Stewart from Floetry that she actually is going to get. I also just shot a pilot for a Bob Ross-type of TV show where I'm instructing people how to paint, but it has an MTV/TLC feel to it.


Also I used to do a live painting night at a bar called North on South St. DJ Brendan (Soul Travelers) would come in and spin and I would paint in the back and bring in different artist friends each week to paint with me. It was really fun and people loved it but I had to stop to finish grad school. So I've been talking to a friend of mine in San Francisco who does a similar event and we were planning on starting some kind of monthly night like that in September. It will be called Sick and Loaded and feature DJs and MCs too.


I'm also teaching an art class at the Youth Help Empowerment Project which is an amazing non-profit organization in Philly for at-risk youth and I'm working with people there to get some art grants that promote art and social change in the community. I also do some performance art with a group called Mute-N-Heard which, is an on-going project and you can check that out on You might have seen us we get all green. Also I perform as LexIcon so if you see that name come check me out. I'm busy.


GC : How can people get in contact with you regarding you art?


NC : I am going to have my website up soon but you can check me out on myspace at


GC : What do you think about the importance of Art and music programs in schools and expression in general?


Armless Crawlie

NC : I think its imperative to have programs for art and music in school, equal to if not more important than sports. These kinds of programs not only develop a child's creativity and individuality, but also are proven to improve other areas of thinking like math and science. I've done a lot of volunteering in schools and for public programs for at-risk youth like the Youth Help Empowerment Program. I see children from ages 5 and 6 to 20 and 21. I help them gain confidence and wisdom just from tapping into the creativity that already exists inside them. To cut programs like these is a detriment to our society.


GC : How has the art game been surprising and/or disappointing? Misconceptions?


NC : Well from the beginning I knew I would have to have tough skin, because it is so subjective, and all you get is opinions and criticism, more negative than positive on the professional side of it. However because it is so difficult the rewards are more than double. Also it's surprising how many people support you when you truly follow what you want to do and persevere. I can't imagine doing anything else everyday for the rest of my life.


GC : What can the people and government do to help the promotion of the arts?


NC : You can give me money. I'd say other than that stop cutting funding to arts on a federal and local level. It's really disgusting how much funding has been cut in the past 5 years. Politicians barely ever see art funding as important, which is a shame because in the 1930s and 1940s during and after the Depression the government had a program to employ people, especially artists, in the arts called the Worker Progress Act (W.P.A.) This was government funding for things like murals and public works. It basically kicked off the art world for the twentieth century in America.


GC : What do you feel about change (of course, thinking of's slogan, Uploading Change) and making positive change in general?


NC : Is there any other kind of change to support? I mean of course plenty of people support negative change, but big ups to GeoClan and Uploading Change and any and everything in Philly that's about that. I actually believe people can make a change. That seems to really oppose most peoples selfish, sad, down on Philly and they views around here. But we are planting a seed, making it grow tall, and eventually it will infest the concrete jungle.

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