Kristen Martincic Interview - The Hopper Prize

Kristen Martincic

Kristen Martincic on a hybrid process of printmaking, drawing and painting, pools as a pathway, & drawing heavily on sensory recollections.

How did you get into making art?

I came to making in a sort of roundabout way. I was a Spanish major in undergrad and did a year-long study abroad in Spain my second year. While there, I traveled a lot and saw so much incredible art and architecture throughout Europe. I came away from that year wanting to be more than just the viewer and craving a tactile experience. When I went back to the States, I started taking studio art classes and it all took over from there. I worked with as many different materials as I could and fell in love with making.

What are you currently working on?

Right now, I am working on my poolscape series where I extract and deconstruct elements from the swimming pool. I make luminous blue gradients by printing multiple layers of oil-based ink onto thin Japanese papers. I layer the translucent gradients on top of painted geometric plywood shapes. By using this hybrid of printmaking, drawing and painting, I orchestrate subtle and dramatic shifts that reveal how the color of water changes depending on the architecture of the pool. I bend, cut, and rearrange these elements (like the lane lines, the tile & the water itself) to create surreal, futile pools. I am really thinking about these pools as a pathway; the way that being in water can take you outside of yourself. I am always looking at water as a color, as a space, as a feeling, as a sensory experience.

I make luminous blue gradients by printing multiple layers of oil-based ink onto thin Japanese papers.

Kristen Martincic

What inspired you to get started on this body of work?

I love water, particularly in the context of swimming and pools. When I was growing up, I swam competitively and spent all my summer days either in the pool or swimming in the Great Lakes. I’m shaped by these early experiences as a young swimmer and I draw a lot on my sensory recollections from that time. I am captivated by empty lap pools and how the lack of water reveals the architecture of the space. An empty pool seems to be waiting for water. And it’s that longing, that desire, that really resonates with me.

I am also really drawn to the methodical, meditative nature of lap swimming. I think about how a body moves in water, as well as the fundamental connection of the body moving with the breath. So, it’s also about the sensation of being submerged and the perceptual phenomena of water.

Do you work on distinct projects or do you take a broader approach to your practice?

My multimedia process is intuitive. It is born out of a deep appreciation for material and the act of making. I sketch and experiment. I am continuously adding to my library of on-going material exploration (hand printed papers, geometric shapes, gradients, color flats, patterns). This is in conversation with idea generation and really is the seed for all my work. As a series develops, I will be more deliberate with my strategy to take into account the distinct processes and the sequence of layers needed for individual pieces.

What’s a typical day like in your studio?

I love to start off with a cup of coffee and a brain dump. I like how this clears out the noise in my head before starting in the studio. Then I will put on some get up & go music or an audiobook. Usually I pick up where I left off the day before. This can be drawing, sketching, planning, hand printing, shaping & prepping plywood, stenciling, painting, collaging, sewing, and experimenting depending on where I’m at with my work. Every day is different.

Who are your favorite artists?

For me, the most compelling art draws me in through a sensory, transcendental experience. Some of my favorites are Agnes Martin, Yayoi Kusama, Tara Donavan, Mark Rothko, Do-Ho Suh, James Turrell, Olafur Eliasson, Donald Judd, Dan Flavin. And of course, I love David Hockney’s pools, Leandro Erlich’s swimming pool and Ukiyo-e woodblock prints.

Where do you go to discover new artists?

Like many folks, I look a lot on Instagram. I love serendipitously coming upon a new artist. I love seeing artwork in person. I live in a midwestern college town, so this mostly happens when traveling.

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