As part of the Spring Collection 08, ArtSlant's curated exhibit from the ArtSlant Community Profiles, Kristi Kent was chosen along with four other artists to be showcased in the ArtSlant Rackroom. The Spring Collection of artists include: Kristi Kent, Joshua Field, Josephine Haden, Jeff Mclane, and Kathy Kelley.
Kristi Kent, a graduate of Otis College of Art & Design and Yale School of Art, does charcoal drawings, works on paper, digital prints, and installation. Part Sci-Fi, part architectonic, part interior landscape, Kent's work suggests roots in such artists as Philip Guston, Raymond Pettibon, Carol Dunham and Dana Schutz. Kent is currently being shown in the Santa Monica Museum of Art's Incognito exhibition and fundraiser. The artists selected for Incognito represent a wide cross-section of current artistic practice. Kent is in good company in this show! (For more details, please see our event display for Incognito.) Kent is represented by Carl Berg in Los Angeles.
The ArtSlant Team corresponded with Kristi Kent regarding her work, her process, and some general get-to-know you's...
Kristi Kent personal photo; Courtesy of the artist
ArtSlant: How did you come to the decision you wanted to be an artist?
Kristi Kent, "Look," 2008, Charcoal on paper, 30x34 in; Courtesy of the artist
Kristi Kent: I'm not sure it was a decision- it was just the thing that I loved to do and it motivated me. I was better at it than other things and in high school it gave me an excuse to hang out with people I thought were interesting.
AS: Who or what has inspired and/or influenced you?
KK: I was -and am- still inspired by my mother and her interest in always exploring something new. Growing up in my house meant that my Mom always had "projects."
I can remember, in particular, one 5-feet long plaster cast of seventies green frogs and orange mushrooms in relief that graced our kitchen wall. She also explored other mediums. Some of my favorites: wooden calendars with interchangeable parts, large paper mache heads for the yearly fair parade, hand-sewn dresses for me and my barbies, and 3-dimensional decorated cakes.
The biggest influence on me now is living in New York. I previously lived in LA and love the energy of both places- something interesting happens every single day.
AS: What challenges you most as an artist?
KK: The usual: money and time.
Kristi Kent, "Net," Acrylic on paper, 38x50 in; Courtesy of the artist
AS: What's really important to you in terms of your practice?
KK: Being excited in the studio. There is nothing comparable for me than seeing an image in my head and coaxing it into the physical world. I love the process of making things and seeing them evolve. It's always a learning experience. Every piece has it's own embedded history that is usually only known by the maker- the transition and changes it goes through. It's most important to me to nurture this engagement by following through on new ideas. I want to continue to learn from and grow with the work.
AS: How about your process...how do you get started on a piece; how do you work through it; where do you work?
KK: For the most recent work, I will usually make a small bad sketch that's only legible to me. I see the structure of a drawing/ the basic composition, layout a rough outline and then start with the fun parts. In spacier moods, I work on parts that require repetitive motions- it's like a hypnotic state. In livelier moods, I work on the larger gestures. I really like the whites of the drawing to be bare paper, so I generally think about those spots first and work around them. I've tried using different masking techniques, but I don't like the hard edges or the residue left by the adhesive. It's a challenge to try to keep those places really white, but I take a strange pleasure in it.
I work out of my house. We built out a live/work space last year and I am so happy my studio is just at the end of the hallway. It allows me to pass the work a lot during the day. Even if it's just a glance, I can keep things in mind.
Kristi Kent, "Google," 2008, Acrylic on paper, 18x20 in; Courtesy of the artist
AS: What's Project X?
KK: I haven't defined it yet. The whole project started with a sketch of my rooftop. In New York, and especially in Brooklyn, there's a lot of abandoned objects adorning the rooftops- old technologies like water towers and other leftovers. This past year, I moved into a place with two large steel machines looming outside my studio window. They're massive and imposing, but decrepit with age. I am fascinated with their form. What started as a small sketch has now become my primary focus. It has opened up a space where my varied interests can come together.
AS: Can you tell us a little about the themes you explore in your work? You've worked in different mediums - how do these choices correlate?
KK: I grew up in Arkansas where the world on TV, in movies and books, was very different from what was around me everyday. I lived on a diet of sitcoms and was lucky enough to experience the revolution of MTV, HBO and cable. Later, I had a brief stint in architecture school. I think these two experiences influenced me to work and think episodically. I have a short attention span, and tend to think about my work in terms of projects or chapters. It can start with an idea or a fancy for a particular medium, like tape or charcoal, and then evolve from there. There are some recurring themes though: science, theatricality, technology and humor.
Kristi Kent, "Hi-Flyer," 2008, Charcoal on paper, 22x30 in.; Courtesy of the artist
AS: Who are you currently looking at? Reading? Music?
KK: I'm currently looking at images of antennas, satellites, mold patterns and flashlights at night. I am also looking at Rembrandt etchings, Goya's Disasters of War, Hubble pictures of space, and Busby Berkley.
As far as reading goes, New York is amazing. Instead of driving, you just read and watch people. I have two types of reading habits. My commute reading, which is usually newer books -most recently, Rats, Lolita in Tehran, and Thunderstruck - all of which were great. Then I have what I call the slower rotation where I read small parts of several books over a long time. In the current cue: The Magic Mountain, by Thomas Mann and Painting as Model. And in terms of music: After 10 years in LA, I'm still addicted to KCRW and stream it whenever possible.
AS: What do you dig?
KK: Soup dumplings at Empire Szechuan; riding the subway and geeking-out on new scientific theories.
AS: What do you don't?
KK: I'm not really a picky eater, but genetically modified food is scaryville.
ArtSlant would like to thank Kristi Kent for her assistance in making this interview possible.
- The ArtSlant Team