Although she didn't study art formally, her youngest experiences with creation were extremely positive.
“My fondest early memories were of painting in kindergarten... I used to be so in love with setting up the easel and putting on the apron and painting,” she said.
Her love carried through to her teen years when Carissa kept a bulletin board in her bedroom.
“It became an ever-changing carousel of art. Like an assemblage. Some elements would remain and others would go away quickly... Because it was impermanent and always evolving it became real self-expression,” she said. “After that my expression was fashion. Putting together crazy outfits. I thought I wanted to be a fashion designer.”
“I never took proper art classes so I never really labeled myself as an artist.” She notes on the heels of talking about her photographic self-portraiture. “At first it was very secretive, and private. But then I started sharing it on Flickr, I didn't share it with anyone outside [of my circle,] but it allowed me to step up and be more brave in asserting: 'I am an artist!'
“I dressed up as characters documentary style, to portray ideas or stories. Now that I paint, I mix it all together and I use my self-portraits. That's why love mixed media so much.”
Paige uses her fondness of costumes, vintage dresses and self-portraits all as a means to the same end. She seems to constantly point at identity and expression, then ask herself: “How will my journey will get me there today?”
“The self-portraits really allowed me to see myself for the first time in a way that I hadn't been able to before. Once I start seeing myself that way I can project that [self-expression] more in my waking and living life. Its the same with my art [show], showing it in the real world. Hanging it at 'little fish' is the same as creating a self portrait, putting my identity out there in a new way,” she said.
Paige's pieces have been described by her friends as “very ethereal and soulful.” Others have said: “they're like a dream you can't quite catch when you wake up.”
In order to create these mixed-media montages of whimsy and expression, Paige goes through a process in her studio in Deltona, where she lives with her partner and three cats.
“I listen to music, Bjork or Billie Holiday or jazz. Being alone makes me feel most comfortable,” she said. “Everything that I gather along my journey is what ends up in my art.”
Paige said her creativity can be sparked by objects in thrift stores. Those inspirations don’t always come in the forms of dresses or costumes either – often it may be something she overhears or encounters.
He current process includes working with wood, with birch wood being a consistent medium. She also uses different techniques while working.
“Sometimes I record myself painting [because I'm preparing for a course]. That's almost like doing another self-portrait.
“When I'm done painting I examine where I could have stopped or see where I could have kept going. It is my sacred process,” she said.
It was writing poetry again that reawakened her process, she said, and got her back to the feeling of expressing herself.
“After I started doing that with words and I needed to get out other feelings visually. I needed to interpret visually my feelings and my words,” she said. “Everything that's been revealed to me by my writing and my art I become a channel, the more clear that I am, the more healthy that I am, when I eat healthy I, become a pure channel. And then I'm truly living my art.”
Paige's solo show will hang for the next month at little fish HUGE pond, where she'll be for a meet and greet during Friday's monthly Art Walk beginning at 6 p.m.
Jessica Pirani can be reached at JessieBerger@yahoo.com.