This week's blog post is part interview, part kinship feature, and part artist crush; and we're crushin' on artist Christina Mrozik. We first discovered Christina's work through our lookbook photographer, Aubrey Janelle , and soon after had the pleasure of meeting her in person while attending her show at Antler PDX.
Elizabeth Mikutowicz: Have you always been drawn to creating art? When did you decide you wanted to pursue art professionally?
Christina Mrozik: I’ve been making as long as I can remember. Both of my parents are very creative in different ways and I’m very lucky that they always encouraged me to pursue artistic endeavors. I remember spending the summers working on craft projects, crocheting with my grandma, building miniatures, hanging out on the floor of my dad’s wood shop. Making was always a part of everything, and it just seemed natural to want to continue doing it forever. it wasn’t until college that I really took drawing more seriously, before it had just been one mode of expressing an inner desire to piece things together, but upon learning how to craft the form better, I knew it was something I wanted to throw myself into. Art is just the outcome of that desire to make manifested while in connection to using my voice to create metaphors for stories I think are important to tell.
EM: Your art has a scientific realism to it, where did this originate?
CM: I’ve always held a great attraction to the natural world having spent most of my youth along the river’s edge that carved through my backyard. As soon as I discovered old naturalist illustration’s my heart was held captive to it. I loved the combination of detail, odd arrangements of the peculiar, and the organic movement of everything, while simultaneously indulging hypotheses to what these objects could be before there was science to it. For example, imagine you found a narwhal horn on the beach but had no idea a whale with a horn existed! What magical story might you come up with? They drew so many captivating natural objects that were full of mystery and story. This mystery combined with my internal knack toward detail was the beginning of a long line of meandering growth and shifts that has lead to what I’m making today.
EM: Much of your work features birds-what is it about birds that attracts you?
CM: Birds have such a rich history as well as a personal hard-to-define connection. Throughout history they have been metaphors for the journey of the soul after death, they have acted as tricksters and oracles, mediators and symbols of wisdom. I respond to the way they move, floating above tension, how they swarm in a dynamic dance while maintaining individuality, their songs and calls that echo into the my hearts inner chamber- there are so many things about them that I connect with, and I think it allows them to be a transitory metaphor for all the things I address in my pieces. It’s a mysterious connection I don't fully understand, but I do believe that they usually represent me.
CM: More than looking at any artists work, I feel inspired by my friends who present me with information that prove how complicated and simultaneous everything is. Experiences and thoughts that encourage me to see things more incongruently, and recognize that we can love and oppress each other at the same time, that this world is not binary but exploding in every direction at once with beauty and love and pain and sorrow. The outer dialogs I encounter sit in me and effect my inner world. I often make work about the complex situations of the everyday- subjects like sickness, separation, bonding in friendship, the struggle to find home, regret, the struggle to feel whole and round and full. Having an inner language of flora and fauna allows me to then translate those experiences into the drawings that feel most natural to me.
EM: When reviewing your body of work the color palette seems cohesive also like a deliberate decision. Can you speak to that?
CM: Hmm, I’m not sure on this! I think we all have colors that we are naturally drawn to, they show up in our lives over and over. I bet if you were to put all my paintings in my room, they would not only match each other, but also my comforter and rug and wall hangings. I think there’s something intrinsic to taste, and it changes as we change.
EM: I'm sure your art pieces are like your children, but do you have a favorite? Perhaps because what it means to you or the process you took in creating it?
CM: Im terrible at favorites, I never have a favorite anything because I’m such a mood driven individual. I order a different flavor ice-cream every time. There are pieces that mean more to me for a little while, and then less later, and then might mean the world to me years later. The pieces I’m most connected to seem to correlate to whatever problem Im mentally working through—they all hold something honest and specific and I care for them in such different ways. I’m always more connected to a piece when I first make it because it feels so fresh and representational of my own life, but as soon as I make the next piece, the favoritism often shifts. I take it as a sign of growth.
EM: What excites you when you wake up in the morning or brings joy to your life?
CM: I love days with good sunshine, good books, good tea, and my little bed goblin spycat. I think it’s important to wake up slowly and take time to sit and think and reflect. When I get those kinds of mornings consistently, I tend to feel more peace overall because I’ve set aside space to recognize the reality of my blessed life. I often reflect on conversations with good friends, people who help me grow and shift and become more mentally flexible. I suppose growth is joy to me.
And laughter. Always laughter.