The Artist's Gaze: Krista Smith
What compels you to the specific women you choose to paint?
Often times I see someone and I just know I want to paint them. Like an instinct you act on. I try not to over think what it is about that person that drew me to them initially; I wait until I am in the process of painting. There, I can slow down and begin to extract from their forms and flesh what I most want to focus on. Only after completing a painting am I really able to explain what compelled me to paint them. Most often there is a formal quality about them I reacted to, whether it be their lines, paleness or transparency of their flesh, a specific orientation of freckles or moles, each subject has something I want to explore but also exploit in a way through the paint.
Tell us about a strong reaction you have received to your work and the impact you sense it has made on the subject, viewer or the greater cultural landscape.
Reactions to my work often differ depending on gender. Women often tell me that my work projects an image of beauty but maintains a real feeling of discomfort (a feeling that I am very invested in presenting in my work). Although not always the case, men will typically speak more to the erotic and beautiful qualities of my paintings. This flip flopping of reads and conflict of ease and dis-ease is something I feel compelled to talk about and think is something that enters many people's, including my own, every day experiences.
What is it about your personal journey that has brought your gaze to focus so deeply on women.
I think growing up in a household packed full of estrogen (my two sisters and mother) shaped so much of how I see other women, how they see me, and how I see myself. This back and forth of looking, judging, wanting, trying to attract an onlookers gaze or repel it is a set of deeply complicated emotions that I relate to, have a deep sense of empathy for, and want to continue to understand through painting.
Why this visual dialogue? What do you hope to accomplish through your work?
Visual language is the most immediate way to communicate as well as make an impact. When I walk into a space and something calls me from far across the room, to the point where I pass over a sea of other things, the work has already done half of its job. The other half is to keep you interested, and through my work I hope to accomplish both.