A Night Under The Stars

Prom Night, Lovely Dress, Telekinesis: Analysis and Aftermath, Bloodsport, Marvel Straights, When She Says

16×20 in

oil on canvas

A Night Under The Stars

I'm sitting in Nico’s bed, watching her paint while scrolling through Carrie (1976) forums, I came across one anonymous reviewer who said they enjoy now, in their later life, pausing the film once Carrie White wins prom queen. It’s better this way, they said. Carrie is smiling, and her dress is still clean. She gets to have a normal night.

It’s prom season in English class, Carrie is sitting a few desks behind her future date, Tommy Ross. The teacher reads aloud Tommy's homework response:

What are you going to leave for us, you people in your cars, spewing pollution into the air? You people with heavy feet trampling down the wilderness. You people who peer into the back seats of our cars, hours after you come out of the back doors of your motels.

Soon, all we will have is each other, and that could be enough. If you will let us have room enough, and air enough, and peace enough, to love each other as you never could.

The teacher calls for criticisms. Carrie, who has been writing down every word, calls Tommy’s poem “beautiful,” and the classroom snickers. Walking through the sticky desks, inspired by the others, the teacher aids in mocking her. “I’m afraid this is hardly a criticism, Carrie.” She is disappointed. She meant it. 

What is left when someone is not given room enough, air enough, peace enough, or love enough to love in return? To love as the rest never could? 

When a dress is torn, and gone to waste, for example, it sits decaying, hung up in a closet, still soft, light, shiny, and pink, but torn nonetheless. When a girl is othered, or put to bed, she lays on herself, falling and catching and holding the extravagant rapture that she is, all alone.

But the flame produced by Carrie is hot and made up of the most beautiful colors, so many they produce a fervid white. Her quick hands cannot stand to hold it any longer. Anyway, why should she keep beauty, locked away, quiet?

What follows the release is an explosion in a  highschool gymnasium; vision going kaleidoscopic, telekinetic and loud, paint flung onto canvas, emotions perfectly unkempt. The English teacher electrocuted and bullies hosed to the floor. Her rhapsody even gets a split screen. If the film was paused before this, as recommended, the night would have been nice, normal indeed. But it wouldn’t have been true. Special girls like Carrie are not prom queens. 

In these seven paintings, Nico has decided to give Carrie room, space and air enough to be, and to be exactly. To preserve her beauty, her emotion, and to translate the flatness of her image in film to a thunderstorm of artist and hand is an impressionist gesture. To put terror and awe to paint, to deem them beautiful, no matter the dress ruined, soaked in blood, is a gesture at truth. 

(Text by Taylor Payton)

A Night Under The Stars 2023

Solo Exhibition at Parlour and Ramp, Chicago, IL

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