Looking is my Livelihood
Feature Image: Daisy Bullseye , 2013, pastel , 34×34
I was raised by parents who were scientists and seekers, and who quietly encouraged me to recognize the expansiveness of everyday life. For our family, the joy was in the discovery rather than the containment.
When I work with students, I encourage them to study the subject closely, and in many different ways. We talk about representation, but we focus on simpler things – line, shape, value, space. In this way, the students break down the concept of the object, and open themselves to that which can only be expressed through experience. They can carry this experience with them into life beyond their educational experience.
I feel compelled to recognize and celebrate the grandness in ordinary things, and to do so by capturing and containing them.
It’s a bit of a conflict: As an artist, I feel compelled to recognize and celebrate the grandness in ordinary things, and to do so by capturing and containing them. So I try to maintain the immediacy of a subject by focusing less on a physical or emotional connection and more on the joining of several visual pieces, employing the language of the visual as purely as possible in an attempt to prolong the life of the subject. I think abstractly, even when my work is representational.
But for the artwork to survive, the viewer must be willing to continue the conversation begun in the studio, somehow connecting with the work and allowing it to inform daily experience. I try to keep my imagery open and engaging, inviting a viewer to participate differently with each new interaction and to embrace the digressions that appear with each new viewing.
To do this, I study a form many times before I consider it part of my repertoire, often relying on other senses to help get me to a truer expression. Then I can draw the same item over and over and it will become something new to me each time. Such experiences allow me to feel satisfied with never feeling fully comfortable with a subject, with needing to constantly look – because I know that what really changes in each equation is me and my ability to clearly see; and that in the end, I am only documenting myself.
Kristin Pluhacek lives and works in Omaha, Nebraska. Her drawings and paintings have been exhibited extensively in the Midwest, and her work is represented in numerous public and private collections. She has led many project workshops, most recently a mural project in Omaha’s Hanscom Park in collaboration with the UNO SummerWorks program. Kristin is a BFA graduate of Creighton University, a roster artist for the Nebraska Arts Council AiS/C program and a drawing instructor at Metropolitan Community College. Currently, her work can be viewed at Anderson/O’Brien Gallery in Omaha and on line at kkpluhacek.com. She will have a solo exhibit at the Cathedral Cultural Center in Spring 2015.