12 Questions: Kristen Woodward
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Kristen T. Woodward received her BFA in Printmaking from Syracuse University, and her MFA in Studio Art from Clemson University. Her mixed media paintings combine painting and print processes, and often utilize found materials. Woodward is currently a Professor of Art at Albright College, teaching painting, printmaking, and team-teaching cross-disciplinary courses on Latin American graphic art, and gender and the visual arts. Currently, she is collaborating with an environmental biologist to explore tropical ecosystems in Central America. Woodward serves as is Resident Curator for the Artists2Artists.net.
Animal imagery has been woven throughout my artwork over the past ten or more years, exploring predator-prey relationships, animal welfare, and how environmental stewardship intersects. The Covid-19 pandemic compelled quiet time to work, and further highlighted our precarious relationship with wild and domesticated animal life.
These conceptual threads that interest me extend into heirloom variety fruit. Having grown up in upstate New York on land that was once an old apple orchard, I am struck by the number of apple varieties that have since disappeared. I started painting these vanishing fruits which present as simple still life, but also serve as everyday reminders of ecological selectivity and choice.
1. What are 1-3 books that have influenced your life?
The Cost of Living- Arundhati Roy
What Painting Is- James Elkins
Bridge of Sighs- Richard Russo
2. What are you currently working on?
I'm making more encaustic paintings, on various found wood surfaces
3. How has failure set you up for later success? What was your favorite failure?
I don't think I can keep track of them to have a favorite. I often make disastrous paintings that teach me something. Or I melt off the encaustic with a heat gun, and work over the residual marks that were too stubborn to leave.
4. What is your most unusual habit?
Studio practice- I often use paste shoe polish as a varnish. (Kiwi brand is archival!)
Life practice- I bring my own (real) maple syrup if I go out for breakfast.
5. If you could have any painter, living or dead paint your portrait who would it be and why?
Jenny Saville (living) She makes gorgeous paintings of large, voluptuous women.
6. What is the most indispensable item in your studio/workspace/office? What is your studio like? Could you share an image?
I would have to say my ceiling fan is the most indispensable item…. My studio is a very poorly insulated room behind my garage that was built in the 1930's.
7. When you feel overwhelmed or uninspired what do you do? What do you do to get out of a funk? What questions do you ask yourself?
Usually, the only way I get unstuck is to make some bad work and accept that it will be bad for a while. I tell myself I don't have to show everything I make. Asking myself what I'm trying to communicate sometimes helps. But of course, that only helps if I can put the content into words.
I find flea markets are a great way to get out of my head and find interesting visual juxtapositions as well as the occasional material for new artwork.
8. Who/What influences your work?
Travel and reading very directly give me ideas. My students are also a huge influence. I love Rufino Tamayo's work.
9. Do you collect anything?
Ukiyo-e prints and odd flea market junk
10. What words of advice would you give to your younger self?
Don't take yourself seriously.
11.In the last five years what new belief, or habit has most improved your life or studio practice?
I'm embarrassed to say I was very slow to switch over to “green” studio practices, including cleaning up my oil-based ink and paint with mineral oil. I used solvents for far too long. In the printmaking studio it's been particularly transformative.
12. Share an inspiring image.
I live on the Schuylkill River, and this photo is from the last warm day I was in my kayak. It inspires me to go outside when I’ve been in too long.
Kristen Woodward is a part of our current group exhibition: NEAR & FAR LIGHT on ARTSY
James May Gallery Dousman, WI 262-753-3130
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