Carole Alden is a member of the Art + Agency working group that collaborated to create the Educating Allies and Empowering Artists zine.
Born in 1960 in Orleans, France to American parents. Returned to grow up in the Western United States where I developed an abiding appreciation for the natural world. No formal education beyond high school. Two marriages that resulted in five children and three grandchildren. Prior to having children, I worked in clay and some bronze. Upon the first child’s arrival, my studio needed to be safe, so I switched to fiber work. By the time my youngest two were 14 and 9, I had added welding, glass work, and plastic fabrication/sculpture to the mix. From 1991-2006 I worked full time, producing sculptures for exhibits and fairs. I also taught workshops in soft sculpture, surface design, and regularly spoke to university programs.
In July of 2006 life was irrevocably altered by an event of extreme domestic violence that culminated in my use of deadly force to preserve my own life and the lives of my children. Without resources for legal representation, I accepted a plea bargain and began a 15 year sentence for manslaughter. Housed at the Utah State Prison, I focused on maintaining my family connection through drawings, and eventually explored crochet as a means to create sculptural forms. Creating art in prison is fraught with angst. You must have written permission, in contract form, before starting any sort of craft project. Despite adherence to policy, SWAT can sweep through at any time and destroy or discard your artwork. I, personally, experienced this multiple times prior to being transported in 2014 to county jail for housing. While jail is considerably more restrictive than prison in many respects, my experience with staff being supportive of creative endeavors has been largely positive. I have been able to participate in the Hogle Zoo exhibit yearly, as well as a variety of charity events and other exhibits. While widely known for my large somewhat whimsical, wildlife sculptures, I have also developed a body of work that reflects the experiences of women dealing with domestic violence and the legal system. These works have been invited to international conferences and exhibits on prison reform in California, Maryland, and Helsinki, Finland.
Having experienced being a battered woman, in a rural setting, with no services available, my hope is to utilize my full size Fish House studio to travel through similar areas and provide a network of information and assistance. Without a larger dialog to address support, and more scrutiny on how laws are enforced, women in rural areas will continue to be left to negotiate their existence daily. The status quo is unacceptable. I will continue to use my network to bring focus on this underserved population.