December ANews

Alumnae Spotlight
Metamorphosis: Carolyn Guerra ’63
artwork“An artist is not a special kind of person, but every person is a special kind of artist.” This remark made by  Alverno professor Sister Helena many years ago has stuck with alumna Carolyn Guerra ’63 ever since.

Carolyn is definitely a special kind of artist. She can be described as prolific, motivated, and award winning. She has created work in mixed-media sculpture, painting, portrait work, ceramics and jewelry. Carolyn's work has been featured in numerous shows in the Midwest, California and Arizona. Her work is on display in public spaces, corporations and private homes. She has won many awards, too many to list--seriously. And not only has Carolyn won awards for her artwork, but also her teaching and her work in real estate. A thirst for learning and excellence has ensured that when Carolyn does something she takes it to the top.

Her beginnings were in Chicago, from there a B.A. in Art and English at Alverno, graduating in 1963. Then there was travel to Europe and classes at the Art Institute of Chicago where she studied drawing, painting, and printmaking. For employment Carolyn taught painting, sculpture, and printmaking at the high school and university level as well as in her own studio in Barrington, Illinois. Later she received a Master of Fine Arts degree from Northwestern University in 1982.

In 1983, Carolyn, her husband and three kids moved to California. This move led to a surprising and successful career in real estate. This new career was prompted by the family's vagabond lifestyle when they arrived in California. The first 18 months in their new home state required changing residence four times. It was then Carolyn realized she had a talent for selling homes. It kept her interest for 17 years until a busy retirement beckoned. Many, many ideas had been germinating while working in real estate that were waiting to bloom.

Always learning and open to new media, Carolyn's process developed over time. Early on as an artist, she would copy the techniques of others until she developed her own method. Carolyn photographs her work throughout the creation process, so she can teach it to others, although teaching is no longer the priority. Today you might catch her leading a one or two day workshop, but it has taken a backseat to her own art creation. Carolyn Metamorphosisexplains, “I like teaching, but I like creating more.”

Carolyn is usually working on four or five pieces at once, each in different stages of completion. She has never suffered from a lack of ideas. She feels always in a rush, pushing forward with her work.  Carolyn commented, “I have the ideas, I need the time.” When asked if she has a favorite piece, Carolyn remarked that is whatever she is working on now, or whatever is next.

Her favorite of the moment is Metamorphosis, a recently finished eight foot tall sculpture. It started out as a piece called I am Woman. A fall during a windstorm temporarily changed it into 'I am a broken statue'. The head, arms and part of the torso broke off. Carolyn reworked it using the original lower half and built up a new statue featuring images of butterflies. A real metamorphosis.

One-Fish-Two-FishAnother recent creation is One Fish, Two Fish which was selected to be part of Urban Trees San Diego, a year-long exhibit which is a popular attraction along San Diego’s waterfront. The event, now in its seventh year, features thirty original sculptural works of public art, chosen from a juried competition. Each work is designed and fabricated by a different artist. After the year on display, all artworks are available for purchase. Carolyn has also had works featured in Urban Trees San Diego in 2005 and 2007. Images of these works can be found at under public art.

Since 1997 Carolyn has been living in Rancho Santa Fe, which is just north of San Diego. Her three children and grandchildren live in California. Two of her children settled in the San Francisco area and she makes the journey north every six weeks to visit family and to work in her ceramics studio. Her home studio is in Rancho Santa Fe where she works on painting and sculpture among other things. Carolyn's website features many of her gorgeous and thoughtful works.

Always looking forward, Carolyn keeps current with the creative opportunities computers can provide. While someday aging may make the physical act of her current art methods too difficult, she's planning ahead. Technology and new media will ensure a place for those germinating ideas to grow.

Article by Jeri Vatne '09