Kristina Faragher received her MFA from Claremont Graduate University in 2001. Through video and installation, Faragher enters into the world of visual sensuality, with the body at the center of her explorations.
Kristina Faragher combines recognizable imagery and layered sound with abstract passages and slowed movement to create short video meditations on human presence in relationship to both urban and natural environments. Direct reference to meaning is denied as viewers explore layers of possibility and attempt to piece together narrative elements. Hand-held motion and rough edits serve to reinforce corporeal reality and position the artist at the center of an exchange between mediated image and truth.
Faragher’s solo and group projects have been exhibited at: the Autry National Center, the REDCAT Theater, Shoshona Wayne Gallery, Andrew Shire Gallery, Los Angeles, SITE Santa Fe in New Mexico Highways Performance Space, Sweeney Art Gallery at U.C. Riverside, and The Museum of Modern Fine Art in Minsk,Belarus.
Faragher’s videos have been presented on several billboards throughout Los Angeles as part of LA Freewaves Ninth Annual International MediaFestival. Her work was recently presented at both the Fifth and Sixth Festival International de la Image in Colombia, South America, sponsored by UNESCO Digiarts.
Her work is presently being exhibited at The Oakland Museum in Oakland as part of the traveling exhibit"Yosemite: Art of an American Icon". Publications include: The Smithsonian Institute’s Archives of American Art and Extensions: Online Journal of Embodied Technology at UCLA.
Brian Sherwin: Kristina, you earned an MFA from Claremont Graduate University. Who were your mentors at that time? Can you tell our readers about the art department? How did your studies there shape your future work?
Kristina Faragher: I had several mentors while I was attending Claremont Graduate University and I still am in close contact with some of them. The most influential mentors in regards to my own work were (are), Anne Bray and Martin Kersels. I also worked closely at that time with Michael Brewster, Connie Zehr David Amico and Roman De Salvo. They are all such brilliant, successful artists and so generous with their experiences and knowledge. I really value the guidance they gave me and feel so fortunate to know them.
The art department at CGU is just phenomenal. The Los Angeles based artist Roland Reiss conceived of and established a democratic community of artists in an environment that nurtured a rigorous, creative academic setting. For example, the graduate students would review new applicants work and participate in the voting in of the next class.
My studies at CGU have significantly shaped my experience as an artist in several ways. I received a working knowledge of the historical and contemporary theoretical framework of the art canon. This is invaluable if one would like to create artwork that is germane, visionary and informed.
I think it is essential to acknowledge influences and develop an acute consciousness about what one is contributing to both the cultural and global dialogue, especially on a planet where for better or for worse, objects abound! Secondly, the emphasis at CGU of a strong, on-going “no matter what”, “art star or not” studio practice has been and continues to be a wonderful foundation in my art career. Because of the community environment I have made life-long friends and colleagues who are still actively sharing their journeys with me and I with them.
BS: You have been a part-time faculty member at Riverside Community College in Riverside, Calif. Do you draw inspiration from your students? How did you find a happy balance between being an instructor and working on your personal art?
KF: To keep it simple, I think that to return what I have received strengthens my own practice and expands my experience of the world. This is the great benefit of teaching- Balance is an on going trial for me in this field. Artists (unless they have the means financially) are constantly working, they often have two full time jobs: their art career and their paying position.
I should say three full time occupations, because to be successful, an artist also must spend a great deal of time making and keeping connections, writing about their work or writing grants to do their work, keeping up on other artists locally and globally, up dating websites, in other words, the endless business aspects of an art career need constant tending.
Beyond the time it takes for thinking, developing and investigating concerns and ideas and finding solid blocks of time in the studio to fully realize the art! Many artists, including myself, also have to face job insecurity, and continue to look for teaching gigs in the over crowded, impacted “art job market” in Los Angeles. Kudos to artists ,we must be tenacious dynamic individuals (or complete and utter fools) to survive this profession even for a year!
That old stereotype of the lazy, flaky artist drives me nuts and has to go, Artists are some of the most industrious humans I have ever encountered!
BS: You combine recognizable imagery and layered sound with abstract passages and slowed movement to create short video meditations on human presence in relationship to both urban and natural environments. Can you go into further detail about your goals as an artists? What are you attempting to convey to the viewers of your art?
KF: That description is of my digital video work. So I will pick up where I left off. Another of my immediate concerns using digital technology as a fine art medium is to preserve the numinous presence of an actual body or object. Cropping and isolating sections of the individual and/or object and zooming in as close as possible is a technique that visually exaggerates the illusion of physical closeness.
This technique can also facilitate transcendence in that viewing an abstract passage in film or video can suggest something else and what that Something Else is or means-I often leave for the personal psyche of the viewer to consider and assign meaning to.
I do not use a tripod. Humans rarely, if ever, view something from a perfectly still, non-moving body! I hand hold my camera and come very close to the subject I am filming, this introduces a certain sensuality to my process and when successful, translates through the medium. Sometimes the acute close ups can create an attraction/repulsion effect, but I find that this paradox and duality of experience is immensely interesting.
I often collaborate with composers and musicians when constructing soundscapes for the pieces. The challenge for me as someone based in painting, drawing and sculpture is introducing the element of sound as a pseudo visual experience, another layer in the imagery.
What I attempt to convey to an audience of course varies somewhat for each piece, but underlying all of my art work is this desire to takes the ordinary into the extraordinary and create a visual experience that is from a perspective the viewer perhaps never encountered on their own. Why do I desire this…..because we shouldn’t have to live without wonder. In the plastic work, there is a very corporeal like, visceral presence when one encounters them (parallels my compulsion to shoot subjects up close), This work often produces a physical response in the viewer, “oooo I love it , I want to touch it, viewer comes closer well, maybe not; actually I should stay away, but wait -oh look…what on earth is this about? I want to touch this!”
Again, the dual experience with the work is what I am after and again to incite curiosity and imagination and an experience of Something Else, the “in between” the “third thing”.
BS: Kristina, you were recently featured in the Smithsonian Archives of American Art, (Vol. 42, No. 3-4) for your accomplishments and insight into a model's contribution to the fine arts. In the article, you discusses your experience as an artist's model and its relationship to your current performance, installation, and body art pieces. Can you go into further detail about this? How has working on both sides of the camera... as a model and as an artist... helped you with the work that you create today?
KF: This experience is one of many that I have had on my journey in the arts and I find myself still referencing the body at some level, even when its subtle and or layered in my work today. The study of the figure or natural forms although dissolved to a certain point in some of my work has been a foundation and I could safely say that this is why I was attracted to not only drawing and studying the figure, but to try the very spatial aspect of modeling.
BS: In your video Thick (stills above), the viewer watches a close-up of honey pouring from beyond the frame into an open, receiving mouth. As the liquid glides into the orifice in slow motion, the viewer is visually seduced by the golden substance as it glitters in the sun, running over pink flesh and teeth. At first it appears that this action is enjoyable to the receiver. But as the honey begins to pour furiously, covering the mouth like a golden gag, it struggles to reject the excess. The video then reverses, and the honey winds up and out of the mouth, returning to the anonymous source. Can you discuss your motives behind this piece? Why did you decide to juxtapose something that is naturally beautiful (the shine of the honey) along side something that is revolting (the hint of impending death due to suffocation, choking)?
KF: Before I discuss the specific video , Thick, I would like to provide somewhat of a context for my work in general, since the motives that drove me to create that particular piece are parallel to those that influence and inform most of my work. I do not create work with the thought of comforting or disturbing others. I am irresolute to create from a deep place of question and inquiry, even if the outcome is perceived of at times as horrible, abject and undesirable.
One of the major artists that has influenced me profoundly and had an impact on the creation of Thick, is Goya’s work; specifically the series of sublime etchings 1810-1820, The Disasters of War depict graphically the terror, brutality and torture that took place during the of the Napoleonic invasion of Spain in 1808. The war in Iraq had recently been waged and I was feeling powerless to stop such insanity. In a flash the idea of this nations greed and desire for “sweetness” at any cost formed the vision for the piece.
I juxtaposed the “revolting with the beautiful” because I think that both exist with or without our imposed aesthetic definitions of them and I refuse to sacrifice one for the other. As a maker of “art”, I do comprehend that the juxtaposition of any contradiction is going to be potentially difficult for the viewer ie; the beautiful honey pouring and then the gagging, and potential death. If indeed art imitates life, then I suppose the “difficult” is unavoidable.
The piece was presented at the REDCAT theater and on electronic billboards on Sunset Blvd. as part of LA Freewaves, International Media Festival, How Can You Resist” in 2004.
BS: Kristina, are you working on any projects at this time? Can you give our readers any details?
KF: Yes I am working on several projects simultaneously. One of the projects is a collaboration with visual artist Curt LeMieux that involves creating a series of 12 digital video shorts and one performance that we have developed over a period of eighteen months. I am also intensely immersed in completing a body of sculptural wall hangings to be used in an installation.
BS: Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about your art or the art world?
KF: My favorite author and philosopher Henry Miller once said, “Art is only a means to life, to the life more abundant. It is not in itself the life more abundant. It merely points the way, something which is overlooked not only by the public, but very often by the artist himself. In becoming an end it defeats itself.”