Carly Waito has me craving rocks.

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Some kids, my teacher friends have told me, feel the need to put everything in their mouths. “I don’t get it! Why would you eat that?” they say, wondering about glue, crayons, chalk, and other, more sinister science-experiment materials. I act like I’m confused, too, but I get it. I was one of those kids, who needed to lick objects, to smell and taste each thing. I was a kid who ate chalk and dirt and took rocks from the beach, smoothed by the sea and flavored with salt, and hid them in my mouth like candies.

Is this gross? Maybe, but I remember a fair number of paste-eating kids from my childhood. I think most of us grew out of it, but for whatever reason, I still want to lick these paintings by Carly Waito.

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Yes, they are paintings! I know, they look just like photographs. It takes some serious skill to render geodes and rocks in such exquisite detail. Lately, I’ve found myself drawn to hyper-realistic painters. My dad is a big fan of James Aponovich, and so several years ago, he bought me a poster. It’s a still life, and it’s very realistic, two things I don’t always go for, and yet somehow it has survived my schizophrenic apartment hopping and remained on my walls. More and more, I find myself appreciating artists who give their work that weird lickable, slick quality. Even as they approach perfection, even as they verge into photographic likeness, there is always a certain element that keeps it from being quite perfect. Is that cruel to say? I hope Waito isn’t striving for perfection. I rather like what she’s doing now.

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