We had the good fortune of connecting with Krystal Hart and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Krystal, how do you think about risk?
I would like to think that I have been a risk taker much of my life. But at times it’s been so reluctantly. There is often this internal wrestle between what my heart/mind is leading me to do and the way of the rest of the world. Just to be an artist in general is, well, impractical and shall I say, risky, in our culture in every sense of the word. So taking risk which I also see as going against the grain has always been apart of my life. One may see these decisions as risks, others may see them as steps of faith. You would have to decide how to perceive them.
In my artistic career, opportunities have presented themselves that have required more of myself, more of my time, and more of my financial resources than I was initially willing to give. On the other side of those risk I have always found that I was more capable, more talented, and stronger than I initially perceived myself or abilities to be. With every risk there is the possibility for growth, no matter your perceived perspective of success or failure. If you learn and adjust, you grow.
As I access calculated risk I refer to my values, principals, and life goals to help me make decisions. Depending on the opportunity I may refer to my associates of wisdom. Those who know me well and will give it to me straight. Through this process I have seen many doors opened for my work and in my professional life that not only benefit me but those around me which is always an extension of my goals.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
To gain a greater understanding of my work, allow me to start a generation ago. My grandmother was the matriarch of the family. She was from rural North Carolina. Claudia was her name. Among many great and honorable things, she was also a quiltist. She would invite her grandchildren into her 10 by 10 quilting house located behind the main house and allow us to “help her” in whatever she was doing. During one of our humid southern summers, my two sisters and I each made a lap quilt, with her help of course, from her discarded sewing scraps.
It was not until many years later did I realized that the makeshift quilting house was actually grandma’s very own studio. And that I, now with my own art studio, had picked up her legacy of working with the hands to create meaning, value, community, and dignity by abstracting with various materials. Metaphorically, the scraps of our interconnected lives.
I have not always been this confident and astute about my work. This has been a difficult growth process but it has been so worth it.
I was 24 years old living in Orlando, Florida doing mission work with the Jesus Film Project. Although I enjoyed traveling the world, meeting new people, learning languages, and diverse cultures, this subtle but nagging sense questioned my capacity for more. This desire to paint lingered in my mind but I just was not sure if this was a God nudge or an aloof thought of my imagination.
I shoot up a prayer, “Lord if I am suppose to be an artist I want to be in my first art show before I’m 25!”
I wasn’t even making art. But if this was a part of something for my life, I wanted to know.
One week later, a friend placed a Call for Artists on my desk. It was an application for a weeklong artist residency program hosted by New York City’s Limner Society complete with a stipend that would cover all expenses.
Time passes and I am accepted!
At the end of the one week residency, I had three paintings and a short film. One of my paintings was selected for the residency’s artists’ exhibit. Another caught the eye of a collector: An inhospitable landscape revealing the slightest possibility of life titled “A Touch of Hope.” The couple bought it for their daughter.
After all of this, the residency acceptance and selling my first painting, I am invited to the collectors’ home. “I see Picasso . . . I see Matisse . . . and many others. They compared my painting at that time to Salvador Dalí!”
The following year I survived a major auto accident with a semi- truck that reinforced a focus of my work of human connections and healing. The growth professionally as an artist and a business woman has been a steady process. I have learned to stay faithful to His ways and the work even when time and money are slim. This helps one to be better prepared for opportunities. I have also learned to never stop learning, to rejoice in the “No’s” for Your Yes is coming. You only need one yes to take you to the next level of your career or personal goals. I am also learning to enjoy the process, ask for help in my weaknesses and to elevate my strengths and not to take things to seriously. Life is short but it can be sweet if you allow it to be.
Coming from a family of business owners I did not think to initially see myself or my work as a business. With much help I learned to change the lens of how I viewed my work, my time and my expertise. Not only do I sell my work, I now also consult others in creative business practices, expanding their abstract process, how to read basic financials, staying organized and I coach businesses in community engagement art projects.
I am so proud of the work that I am making and the ideas that are being realized. The process of abstraction allows me to deconstruct and to build at the same time. I use narrative as a pseudo scaffolding of my works and the theme of resilience as a compass. I am interested in the narratives of the mind and in between us as humans as we interact with each other. I explore our humanity and our inhumanity in relation to the self, to one another, and to our surroundings.
In painting and collage, I employ a method inspired by Nihonga, a 19th century Japanese method of painting. I use natural pigment minerals and scraps of materials that are subjected to trauma by crushing, cutting, heating, and washing away. Works emerge as emotive color fields that balance tumult with delicacy. The interplay of the idea of distress and elegance further reflects the variation of our personal and collective experiences.
Recently expanding my film and audio influences in my work I have been gathering audio narratives about resilience from women in and around my life. I am currently compiling these image and sound bites for future installations and multi-disciplined engaging works of art.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
To start of the best time ever we would start on 8th street in Little Havana and check out the food and bars nearby. For a quite day at the beach, bike rides among the mangroves, and a little solace from city life check out Bill Braggs State Park in Key Biscayne, FL. Its a 20 minute drive from downtown Miami. I would also checkout any of the local galleries or museums. Some of my fave being PAMM and Rubell Museum.
Now as an avid traveler I cannot leave you state side. For the great food and expansion of your culture curiosity join me in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Taste foods and sees sights that you will never forget. The vast mountain range 20 minutes from the city will be food for your eyes and your soul.
Next stop we will go star gazing in Iceland. Try some rotten shark meat with me and tour the countries natural wonders. Next stop Brasil, is how its really spelled, football, multicultural food mecca, and rich warm hospitality. Check out the beaches, the rich history or experience the urban life of Sao Paulo. The museums are great too. You will wonder if you are in Manhattan in some parts of the city. Lets end our journey somewhere in the motherland, say Kenya! The hospitality capital of the world. Sights sounds, and languages will change every thing for you. While you drive along the highway spot zebra on the side of the road. Chillin! Laugh, dance, and sing, A LOT here. The people and the sites you will remember for a life time.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Wow there’s so many people, books, and artists that deserve credit for helping me to become who I am. First and foremost my Lord, Jesus, who not only introduced me to and encouraged my creative abilities, the Lord has guided me to every single opportunity and decision that I have made. I have also been given help and wisdom to get out of many messes, challenges that I have found myself. My family, including my amazing, supportive, and man of wisdom husband. My give it to you straight mama. My fearless and insurmountable twin, and my younger sister, Kamika Marie. This hardcore business woman and fashionista always elevates my thinking and my standards.
Some of my many creative compadres Wendy Earl, Yuko Oda, Mariam Aziza Stephan, Maxine Campbell Judith Kruger, and Tomi Balagan to name a few. Organization ArtistU.org, and Wendy Hicky founder of PopArtStreetGallery. My mama mentors Janet Ward Black and Cheryl Hunter. Also, Jessie and Janette Suggs.
Bert VanderVeen, Kerith Hart, Darryl Neverson, Brandon Lalone