There’s a certain fearlessness to Christina Shmigel’s sculpture. Her pieces include traditional materials such as steel, wood, and paint, but they don’t stop there. From bright plastic pinwheels and cardboard to plumbing parts and found furniture, everything is fair game as a building block in her thoughtful, observant tableaus and constructions. Each finished piece is like a reflection of the world around her filtered through her keen eyes, skilled hands, and the particular quirks of her attention. There’s a fearlessness in that attention, too.
Christina comes to her sculpture practice with a particularly broad base of experience to draw on. Her BFA from RISD is in painting, and she followed it with an MFA from Brooklyn College that she describes as “more conceptual.” Later, she returned to school for a second MFA at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, this time with an emphasis on technical skills like blacksmithing and casting.
Despite this rigorous training, Christina’s sculptures are anything but precious. “I work in a very crafted, un-crafted way,” she says. “I’m interested in that place where you make something, and you solve the problem with enough elegance so it ‘works’—it’s a little sloppy, but it has beauty, too… How do I bring that incidental beauty into my work?”
A simple answer to that question would be to look at one of Christina’s larger undertakings, A Foreigner’s Cabinet of Chinese Curiosities. The piece is built into the sixty-seven drawers of an old Chinese medicine cabinet and is a visual journal/scrapbook/“memory palace” of the years she has spent living in Shanghai. Each drawer is full of incidental beauty, found humor, and the little puzzles of the everyday in a vibrant, adopted city: discarded trinkets, cardboard reconstructions of Shanghai’s ubiquitous air conditioners, the peculiar packaging of a Chinese detergent. Together, they paint a nuanced portrait of a particular city at a particular point in time, and they give us a view into the mind of the artist as she takes it all in.
This spring, Christina will bring her keen observations and relentless inquiry back to Penland, where she will teach the eight-week concentration Sculpture with Fierce Intention. The workshop is for students with an ongoing studio practice who are eager to uncover the “why?” behind the work they make. It will take place in the Penland iron studio but will welcome a wide range of media based on student interest. Guest instructors Mike Rossi and John Watson will each join the workshop for a week to teach their specialties of steel and wood/plaster.
Sculpture with Fierce Intention will run March 11 – May 4, 2018. Registration is open now for all spring workshops.
Sculpture with Fierce Intention
Christina Shmigel—Who am I as an artist? What distinguishes me as a maker? How do I work beyond what I know? Develop a serious body of work in sculpture/installation while digging deep into what gives you pleasure, purpose, and meaning. Through a guided series of riddles and playful explorations, you’ll investigate the why. Technical demonstrations (as needed) will assist you with the how. Guest instructors Mike Rossi (steel) and John Watson (wood/plaster) will each join us for a week of material improvisation. Students may work in any medium in object- or space-based sculpture. Penland’s iron studio will be transformed into a sculpture studio for this workshop. For artists with an ongoing studio practice in any material. Studio fee: $275. Code S00I
Christina: Studio artist; former Penland resident artist; teaching: Webster University (St. Louis), frequent Penland instructor; exhibitions: Ukranian Museum (NYC), Duolun Museum of Art (Shanghai), Laumeier Sculpture Park (St. Louis), St. Louis Art Museum. Mike: principal of Rossi Metal Design (Philadelphia) making unique architectural works, furniture, and sculpture; teaching: Ox-Bow (MI), Haystack (ME), Bryn Athyn College (PA), Kalamazoo College (MI); Windgate Artist in Residence at State University of New York-Purchase. John: Studio artist: teaching: Webster University (St. Louis), Belmont University (TN); exhibitions: Vanderbilt University (TN), hemphill Fine Art (DC); co-author of Living the Dream…The Morning After Art School (Kendall Hunt Publishing).
REGISTER FOR SPRING CONCENTRATIONS
clay | letterpress | painting | metals | textiles | wood | sculpture
March 11 – May 4, 2018