Acrylic, silkscreen, oil on canvas
KRISTEN SCHIELE is inspired by "stage sets, cinema,
folklore, allegory, kitsch, and storytelling." Her paintings and
sculptures combine color and pattern with appropriated silkscreened
images from films and magazines. The result is frenetic and tumultuous
surface intensity that belies the complexity of the interwoven stories
of youth culture. Kristen earned her BFA from Indiana University in
Bloomington and her MFA from American University in Washington, D.C. and
went on to study at Hochschule Der Kunste in Berlin. Her work is a
currently on view in Summer Mixer, a group show at Joshua Liner Gallery (New York City). Upcoming group exhibitions include Your Bad Self at Arts and Leisure Gallery (New York) and An Odyssey at Torrence Art Museum in California, both opening in September. OOOT MMMMM, a silkscreen book collaboration with Abe Smith published by Kayrock Screenprinting, will be available at the Printed Matter Book Fair at PS1 MOMA in New York City (September 17-19, 2015). Kristen lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
OtherPeoplesPixels: Pattern features prominently in your work, but so does the figure. . . how do the two relate to one another?
I paint to tell stories, usually inspired by books, film and memories.
The figure is either in the work or is the viewer seeing the work. In
the same way a graphic novelist designs the page to tell a story, I use
pattern as a framing element. Giotto
would break up stories with intricate panels and borders in order to
make the stories ornate and to lead the viewer. I'm obsessed with
researching patterns in any books I can find. Carl Jung talked about
ancient, primal, universal language, and since every culture has created
pattern and design, there is something of this universal, primal
language in pattern and symmetry.
OPP: Tell us about a particular go-to pattern and what you’ve learned about it in your research.
love geometric patterns: German, Swiss, Finnish, Swedish, Russian
1920s-1950s era. In the 1950s, the Marimekko and later 1970s California
pattern designers did something amazing from the 1920s French design
work of simplified, large scale patterns. But no pattern is a go-to
pattern. I'd say love of the diagonal brings me to the Chevron
pattern, as in the painting Melanie Malone. It mirrors
OPP: Can you talk about layers in your work, both literally and figuratively?
I have always loved to allow simultaneous readings in my work, and I
probably think of too many things at once. Rather than make a reduced,
perfect image, I layer work so the viewer is in several places at once. I
often work from unruly, meticulously cut piles of collage material from
hundreds of vintage magazines, books or movie screen shots. I start
from the collages, drawing in the work, painting in acrylic paint, or
sometimes adding layers of silkscreen. Silkscreened images can sit on
the surface, but a viewer can see through them and cannot miss their
shape and meaning—like in the newspaper or Lichtenstein and Warhol
pieces. I often go one more layer of color or use oil at the end, as it
is dense and sits on the surface.
Acrylic on board
The layers of pattern give me a little bit of a voyeuristic feeling,
like I’m looking through blinds or curtains to see what’s happening
behind them. In some more recent pieces, like Halston Disco and Disco Sucks,
that feeling is especially strong. There’s the visual attraction of the
pattern and color, and then there’s the frustration of having my view
obstructed and having to push past it to see the story. Thoughts?
I do like the idea of a journey or voyeurism. I like there to be a
journey in layers rather than the amazing, Japanese elegance of
pictorial design and flattening of space. I think more in terms
of a video game going front to back. Halston Disco is
from the 70s/ Studio 54 era, and Disco Sucks is an image from a vintage Easy Rider magazine of
a 70s biker, with his
slogan T-shirt and adorable could-be-a-guy-in-Williamsburg, Brooklyn
look. I pretty much smashed disco cuteness on cool people. I'm making
myself laugh, essentially, and spending tons of hours on individual-taped off squares of color. In a similar piece Tiga, the
aggressive, silkscreened image of a tiger is the negative space in
what is really, a painted quilt of pattern. I like to play with what
I think is masculine authority and give sweetness or craft the
Acrylic on canvas
OPP: In what ways have you been influenced by stage sets, cinema and the theater?
KS: My first experiences of being deeply moved by art were watching the stop animation movies by Czech masters of the 1930s, like Berthold Bartosch’s L'Idee or Dada films, which also influenced Chilean director Jodorowsky.
These artists create poetic space for a story, with pieces of bedrooms
or houses, dense color and abstractions. This informs how I create space
in my work. For me, the bedroom should include the dark sky and moon if
you are, say, thinking of the lead character reading her husband's
diary in Ingmar Bergman's film Hour of the Wolf. In the painting Futurismo, for example, there is a figure in the foreground, eating and
reading an Italian Futurism manifesto. She is in her bedroom, but the moon and the
suburban house are there as well.
OPP: Are the
characters you are influenced by archetypes? How often do viewers “get”
your cinematic references and does it matter if they don’t?
KS: Archetypes can be found in everyone, and I think
about them a lot. No one needs to get a cinema reference, but I
usually include the reference in the title or on the backs of the
work. If I choose an image from a movie, it is the greater story or
meaning that draws me in, so referencing the specific movie is just to pass on
the appreciation of what an artist was seeing. I see something
in it myself, then pass it on to you.
Lu Magnus Gallery
OPP: You've made sculpture and installation work before, but
it seems that you broke out of the rectangle, as it specifically relates
to painting, in your most recent solo show Spirit Girls at Lu Magnus Gallery. Is this a new direction for you or was it specific to this body of work? What led you there?
This was the first time I installed patterned, colored strips of wood.
There were paintings on cut wood panels and some works on canvas. The
installation and panels were not a new approach but more like combining
groups of sculptural work I've made on layers of painted wood and taking
it linear. The show was specific to the Spirit Girls theme. I was literally allowing
myself to be super happy and free. I installed the wood patterned strips
free-form all the way up and around a two story wall, and I allowed the
panels to be in shapes and parts. I had not done that before because I
was holding to the tradition of the rectangle-painting space. In the studio now I am
pushing more literally into theatrical space. I am
printing patterns on fabrics and draping them into a space. The space
is a stage I'm setting up for live drawing in a group of artists, and
I will see how far I push the next installation.
Silkscreen, acrylic on canvas
OPP: You exhibit all over the world. Tell us a story about a great experience exhibiting outside of the U.S.
I love showing in Berlin. An opening there means underground bar late
nights, a mural painting at 2 am, an art and clothes trade, long talks
(trying not to be suffocated by cigarette smoke) and finding new books.
The city inspired me to make a studio cooperative in Greenpoint,
Brooklyn in order to keep my Brooklyn community as tight. I have old
friends in Berlin. We grew up in our 20s together, and they are
inspiring with fashion, music, film and painting. Berlin is less
expensive, and the government has protections for rent stabilization. I
wish we would do the same here in New York. I plan on staying in amazing
Brooklyn and going back to spending my summers making work in Berlin.
Featured Artist Interviews are conducted by Chicago-based, interdisciplinary artist Stacia Yeapanis.
When she’s not writing for OPP, Stacia explores the relationship between repetition, desire and impermanence in
cross-stitch embroideries, remix video, collage and impermanent installations. She is
an instructor in the Department of Fiber and Material Studies at The
School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where received her MFA in 2006,
and was a 2012-2013
Mentor-in-Residence at BOLT in Chicago. Her solo exhibitions include I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (2013) at Klemm Gallery, Siena Heights University (Adrian,
Michigan), Everything You Need is Already Here (2014) at Heaven Gallery (Chicago) and When Things Fall Apart,
a durational, collage
installation in the Annex Gallery at Lillstreet Art Center (Chicago).
Stacia recently completed an installation for Chicago Artists'
Coalition's 2015 Starving Artist Benefit and is currently working
towards a two-person show, also featuring the work of Aimée Beaubien,
for O’Connor Art Gallery at Dominican University (River Forest, IL). The
show will open on November 5, 2015.