Tuesday, October 21, 2008

KY7 Artist Perspective - Krista Birnbaum

On Landscape

"The impact of landscape on people and culture was demonstrated to me at an early age. My family moved from a small farm in Northeast Ohio to Akron during my formative years. I saw that we both construct and are constructed by our surroundings, and wondered which force has more impact. These relationships have been the central question in my work.

During 2006-07, my husband and I lived in Roswell, NM, at the Roswell-Artist-in-Residence program. A stark contrast to mid-western living both in landscape and culture, we were both inspired to explore the southwest in myth and reality. My husband, David Politzer, was drawn to the myth of the cowboy. I was drawn to the open range itself. At times, harsh winds blew tumbleweeds past our house, placing us back into the stories of the Old West. Then a Doritos bag chased after the tumbleweed and we would snap back into the present day. Fences, built years ago to keep cattle in and trespassers out, now served to collect and display human artifacts blown by the wind.

The prints in this show are designs inspired by the landscape of Roswell: both its natural beauty and the additions humans have made. I consider them both drawings and designs. I make them in Illustrator, drawing them with digital tools, but the trace of human hand associated with drawing is removed with this process. Instead, these digital tools result in the clean lines and coordinated colors of design work. I want this aesthetic to speak to the contemporary vision of the landscape, and the relationship our culture has to nature.

I am back in Ohio now, living in Youngstown, OH. When I tell people I live in Youngstown, their faces cringe slightly and then ask, “And how is that?” I know Youngstown has a reputation as an economically depressed city, but I love these small, post-industrial towns. The incredible architecture, the history and the sad, unrealized potential are the stuff of rich stories, past and present. I drive each day from the city out to Amish country in western PA, where I teach art at a liberal arts college. The transitions from urban to rural, the campaign signs, the SUVs for sale in front yards; these all tell stories of our relationships between culture and landscape.

I’m easily finding subject matter for a new series of images. "

Krista Birnbaum

Above: Trash Pile with Weeds & Cleaning, Krista Birnbaum (Youngstown, OH)

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