From sourdough bread baking to starter gardens, many people have picked up hobbies during the coronavirus pandemic. Lauren Caddick ’14 chose a different path, channeling her NC State art and design education toward the creation of something entirely new: a 78-card tarot deck called Home Base designed to document the surreal experience of quarantine.
Inspiration and happenstance led Caddick to embark on a project to capture both the stillness of quarantine and its key moments of humor, serenity, anxiety, and joy. She happened to purchase a Polaroid Mio camera from a thrift store just weeks before North Carolina implemented stay-at-home orders to limit the spread of COVID-19. While playing a board game with her family during the first weekend of the shutdown, she took a photo and immediately identified the “Judgement” card.
Since graduating in 2014, Caddick has taken a path “full of zigs and zags.” She worked at a hospitality art firm for about four years before taking a position at an art Gallery in Downtown Raleigh. In 2018, she joined the Park Scholarships staff to help coordinate sPark and that year’s selection process. While back at NC State, she felt inspired to return to her education, and in May, she earned a master’s degree in Art + Design.
Caddick is interested in using digital collage to tell stories through art and in developing art processes. As part of her master’s thesis, she developed a new Major Arcana—the 22 most important cards in a tarot deck—inspired by influential feminists from the last century to honor the upcoming centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment. Caddick decided to focus on tarot as a medium because allowed her to create a series of work while exploring both digital illustration and art processes on a large scale.
Tarot, Caddick explains, tends to grow in popularity during times of uncertainty. “Tarot gives a voice to those who feel unheard,” she shares. “It provides structure when the world around you feels chaotic and an answer when the unknown feels overwhelming. The beauty of tarot is that the answers always lie within yourself.” She hopes her project can provide inspiration for people who feel lost or isolated during this time of social distancing.
Caddick credits the Park Scholarships community with shaping her both as a designer and as a person. “The staff’s support of my art and their guidance in a university environment have combined to shape me not only an artist, but into a person who strives to work hard, stay organized, and champion others,” she says.
Dr. Carmine Prioli, a former Park Faculty Scholar and Caddick’s mentor, has played a key role in Caddick’s development as an artist. “Carmine’s expertise in folklore, visual symbolism, and history have inspired me and informed my own studies in design,” Caddick says. “He has encouraged me to explore new media, be curious about untold stories, and search for deeper meanings in our culture.”
Her Park Scholarships experience continues to influence Caddick’s work. She explains that scholarship, a core pillar of the program, was essential to the pre-production phase of Home Base. “I spent hours pouring over Arthur Waite’s The Pictorial Key to the Tarot, which accompanies the Rider-Waite-Smith,” she shares, pointing to the most well-known tarot card deck. She crafted a guidebook to accompany her deck that describes the meanings and visual symbolism of each card.
Caddick’s project is currently listed on Kickstarter with the goal of raising enough funds to produce 100 decks. “Through this project, I’ve connected with other creators who have offered their advice and encouragement along the way,” she says. “It’s been a great way to build a network of artists and designers all working towards similar goals and to reconnect with my own community through pledges and support, especially during this socially distant time.”
For Caddick, undertaking this project has emphasized the importance of being present, observing her surroundings, and seeking beauty in the unexpected. “Home Base has given me focus and has brought moments of surprise and joy in a time of boredom and loneliness,” Caddick shares. “Elevating small instances of everyday life to greater importance through photography has helped me to reframe the idea that ‘staying at home’ means nothing to do.”