Nanette Carter with “Cantilevered #29 (teetering),” one of the works in her one-woman exhibition at the Alessandro Berni gallery in Perugia, Italy. A Montclair native, Carter spent her junior year of college in Perugia and returned this spring for the first time in over 40 years. COURTESY JOHN LUDAS

Four decades ago Nanette Carter of Montclair was a student at Oberlin College.

She spent her junior year studying art in Perugia, Italy, and never went back until this spring when, after 43 years, she returned for an exhibition of her work at the Alessandro Berni Gallery there.

Carter is the daughter of the late Matthew Carter, Montclair’s first black mayor, and now lives in New York. She sent Montclair Local some reflections on her art and her childhood in Montclair.

Carter said she had a ball on her trip to Perugia. She connected with some Montclairites when her partner was struggling in a multilingual phone conversation on the street. Andreas Corazza, a former Montclairite who now makes his home in Perugia, overheard him, offered to interpret, and discovered that he and Carter shared the same hometown.

Carter says the catalysts of her art for over four decades have been the drama of nature and of human nature.

She documents the present “through abstract shapes, textures and colors … emoting an inner response to contemporary themes.

Nanette Carter’s “European Union 2017,” seen in the Alessandro Berni Gallery in Perugia, Italy. COURTESY NANETTE CARTER

“Around 2009 my sense was of an astronomical change incubating and ready to give birth to a most uncivil stretch in U.S. culture. It was during President Obama’s eight years in office. The mistreatment and disrespect of our first African-American president reared its ugly head,” she said.

Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina shouted “You lie!” to Obama during a speech to Congress in 2009, Carter said, and “it has been downhill ever since.

“The divide in this country has continued to manifest itself on so many levels dividing rich from the poor, Muslim from Christians and whites from blacks.”

Carter’s “Cantilevered” series is intended as a visual metaphor for what is going on in the U.S. and the world.

“Cantilever is an architectural term,” she wrote in a statement about the work. “To be anchored at one end while balancing a structure that extends out horizontally from the base. The illusion is that an anchor is acting as a formidable support while its arms hold up a massive structure, defying gravity.

‘[It’s] a balancing act as we all balance this information age, age of unrest, people working several jobs to stay afloat, children, elderly parents (people living longer), misinformation, along with the middle class entering poverty.”

Carter has been working on the “Cantilevered” project for four years.

“In the last year the series has added a new element,” she said. “Some of the structures are beginning to teeter. Shapes are sliding off the main structure in a free fall.”

— Elizabeth Oguss