Words by Eddie Arroyo
It has been about a year since I had sat down and spoken with Karen Starosta-Gilinski at her space in the Fountainhead Studios. She has three exhibitions upcoming this month. One is the middle galleries solo show at the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood entitled Cloud 9. The other is a a yearly survey of artists from South Florida show in the David Castillo Gallery called DCG Open, and the third is at Primary Projects in the Miami Design District “Salon de Notre Société”. Over the years she has been exhibited internationally and is included in important private collections.
We sit down to discuss the conceptual framework that is driving her current body of work.
So tell me about the body of work you will be presenting for your Cloud 9 exhibition.
Karen Starosta Gilinski
Well the work’s scale is larger now and conceptually it has gone to a more violent result. It was more of an exercise of letting go of the technique and destroying an object but there would still be a sense of a character which I wanted to retain. It is part of a narrative or a situation and they’re aggressive and violent but at the same time a little playful. And so with some of the pieces in the show I decided to go back conceptually to what I did in 2009 with my work, destroying something beautiful and reconstructing it to my own aesthetic of beauty. I am also including gems in the sculptures that were prevalent in works I have had prior to even 2009. The Cloud 9 exhibition is going to be well rounded in terms of a little bit of all my experiences with my artwork.
How did you come to the decision to let the violence show with the sculptures?
Part of the process or evolution in the work is simply to let it go. I see it more as to be spontaneous and to leave it exposed to show that I don’t care. It is an effort to show how difficult it is to break apart something beautiful. For example that couch could be worth a lot of money and someone gave it to me, this precious thing. It is an object and I treat it as a material and destroy it. I am proud of that in a way. For example this sculpture that is dark in color, well it used to be a blue couch but now it has been altered, impaled. There is a fragment of a mirror here at the bottom, it has been spray painted and essentially vandalized. I have left the scissors I used to alter the couch right here.
It is the ugliest one out of all the couches in this studio. Do you feel your perceptions of beauty have changed with this series?
Yes, my aesthetic has changed where before I would take an object and deconstruct it and change it to something I find visually pleasing. Now I want to show I simply don’t care anymore. What concerns me is the process and the result of it in its raw form. I am not trying to manipulate it to my perception of what it should be but it is more about what I am feeling at the moment and so it is a very fast and spontaneous act. Here is this plush toy of a monkey that has this wire where it can make this monkey sound and so as you can see I had cut its life line in a way. So now it makes no sound, it is rather sad but I do it anyway.
At one point I decided to take what I learned and reapply it to what I had done in the past in terms of reforming it to this object of beauty. So with this current work it does carry that kind of sensibility. It’s a process of cutting taking away pieces and adding to alter the form. There is a familiar quality to the sculptures as far as it looks like a lion or bear but it does have an abstract sensibility that needs to be retained as well. With this series of work I have also decided to include these gems as a form of a material to discover in the work. A small treasure if you will.
Tell me about this piñata that you have hung up on the wall.
I think it’s an amazing piece. It’s called “I’m a blind piñata…” and it was a surprise for me. It is more exciting when something happens without intention where I would think, “Well I’m going to do this piece and it’s going to look like this.” With this sculpture it just came out perfect with the bag. Well let me say it was an object I found in a parking garage, I guess from some one’s birthday. At the time there was the intention of doing something with it more involving and so I covered it with this black garbage bag and stood back… deciding that it was finished. It came from a video collaboration with another artist where we covered our faces and so it seemed to translate to this piñata perfectly. It does carry this macabre thing to it where it moves away from being a toy. I do enjoy pieces that surprise me in the end and this has been my approach with the current body of work; to be more unplanned and not care as much.
I look forward to seeing your show at the Hollywood Art and Culture Center.
So do I.