The hyperreal, disproportionately long legs of the horses found in Cara Van Leuven’s art is founded in the sense of fragility omnipresent within any equestrian relationship. At times, such fragility is figurative, like the symbiotic bond between a horse and rider developed only via countless hours of functioning as one – a precious
connection which can fracture in seconds. Meanwhile, the literal fragility of even the mightiest mare or sturdiest stallion remains a covert-yet-constant consideration – one that, on occasion, can even tragically remind us of the fragility of life itself.
Cara VL has had a lifelong obsession with horses; when they were no longer a part of her life everything became disoriented.
At the age of nine, Cara began taking riding lessons and eventually found true love competing in the jumper ring. The stable taught Cara discipline and order, something sorely missing in her home life. Her barn rat friends became family and the horses offered a type of peace and kindness she desperately longed for.
This magical life with horses seemingly ended when Cara left her hometown of Ft. Wayne IN to study photojournalism at Western Kentucky University. She performed remarkably well with a camera, earning numerous awards including The Alexia as well as interning at newspapers throughout the country. Always a creative, Cara not only relied heavily on photography but also breakdancing and graffiti to keep her soul full. However, the loss of horses was marked.
After the fall of the 2008 recession, she moved to one of the last unrehabbed lofts in downtown St Louis. It was full of artists who encouraged her to paint. In 2011 Cara created her first painting, a 6'x6' of two horses embracing. The only work she could find was as a carriage driver which reunited her with horses and reignited the passion that had been dormant for far too long. When she smelled her heavy horse sweating during a warm day (horses have a very distinct, sweet smell) there was an almost audible sigh resonating from her soul. She was back on track.
Today Cara is a full-time artist, painting horses in thick, layered oils. Her career as an artist is an homage to the animals who brought her life color and meaning again. The horses are depicted with exceptionally long legs, reflecting their fragility and the fragility of life. The backgrounds are often simple in nature showcasing a laser focus on the subject matter. A variety of techniques and tools are used to achieve hyper textured oil paintings inspired by a true passion for process in both painting and horse training. Glazing, layering, and thinned paint along with the use of brushes, pallet knives, and fingers lend to the canvas’ depth and movement.
Cara is based in Williston FL, outside Ocala on a small ranch with two horses, a three legged dog and a semi-feral cat.
1996 – 2000
BORN FORT WAYNE, INDIANA (UNITED STATES)
WESTERN KENTUCKY UNIVERSITY
SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY LONDON
2023 — 24
HORSE SHAPED WORLD
ANGAD ARTS HOTEL, ST LOUIS MO
LONG LEGS AND FRAGILITY
OCALA CITY HALL, OCALA FL
HORSES WITH LONG LEGS
MARION CULTURAL ALLIANCE, OCALA FL
ANIMAL HOUSE, I NEED THAT ART, CLAYTON MO
CHRONICLE OF THE HORSE
HAMPTON CLASSIC POSTER SELECTION
2021 - 2022
2017 - 2018
HORSE POLO ART GALLERY - KATERINA MORGAN, GLOBAL
MARION CULTURAL ALLIANCE, OCALA FL
ROGER'S FRAME AND GALLERY - CARTIGLIANO ARTS, OCALA FL
GRAND OAKS RESORT, WEIRSDALE FL
TRADE-ARAMA ART CENTER, BREVARD NC