August 2017 – Kristen Martincic

Kristin Holding Tile Pool

Kristin Holding Tile Pool

The Stats

Name: Kristen Martincic
Current Location: Columbia, Missouri
Education: BFA, MFA
Preferred Art Medium(s): print, mixed media, drawing, ceramics, sculpture, installation
Children (ages and genders): Nico, 17 months
Website Address:

The Questions

What is your background (where are you from, education, important details, where are you know, etc.)?

Joe building a brick pool

Joe building a brick pool

I grew up in suburban Cleveland and did my undergrad at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. I actually started off as a Spanish major and spent my sophomore year studying abroad in Spain. While there, I saw so much amazing art & architecture and I realized that I wanted to try making art rather than just looking it. I took a few studio art classes once I got back and was hooked. I moved around a bit after undergrad to wherever a studio opportunity would take me… upstate New York, Kentucky, and then back to Ohio. I ended up going to the University of Nebraska Lincoln for my MFA where I met my husband. We moved around for a few years to pursue jobs and residencies (Montana, Ohio, Indiana, New Mexico) and now we live in Columbia, Missouri. My husband teaches ceramics at the University of Missouri.

Was there any part of your formal or non-formal training that prepared you for being a creative maker and mother simultaneously?

collab work-brick pools 1-6(1)

Brick Pools – Collaborative Work

When I was growing up, I watched my mom take care of five kids while going back to school to start a new teaching career in academia. That had a lasting impression on me; I think about how my mother juggled all that often, especially once I was pregnant.

I think the rigor of art school & an MFA program have offered many helpful skills in navigating being an artist & a mother. Being creative, observant, flexible, and willing to adapt in relationship to your child’s actions. For me there’s a lot work and trial and error in my studio practice and there’s a lot of the same with being a parent.

Are there any women that you find to be an inspiration for you as an artist/mother?

I have some dear friends from my grad school days that became mothers before me. They showed me, in a tangible way, how to pull off the balancing act of being an active artist & a mother.

Can you talk about how you balance your role of artist and the role of mother? Did you take time off after the birth of your children? How did that work? What about childcare? How did you navigate making artwork?

workspace-tile pool 1 in progress

Work Space – Tile Pool In Progress

I’m still trying to find that balance and just going day by day. Babies & toddlers are always changing & gaining new skills, which makes the balancing act constantly shift. My pregnancy really slowed me down from the beginning, so I feel like that prepared me for taking time off from the studio after my son was born. I got a lot of advice to take it easy, let my body heal, and to lighten the load during the first year. So I postponed a few gigs I had that year.

After Nico was born, I kept some materials handy for whenever I had a few moments. I would punch out shaped paper pieces (circles, hexagons, etc) that I could later use as components for some larger “tile pool” pieces. It was a good way to keep my hands busy. When Nico was about 7 months old, we had a sitter come to the house several afternoons a week and that gave me a bit of head space to deal with emails, get a little bit of studio time, as well as do some house stuff.

One of the most challenging bits of having a home studio is trying to find some head-space among all the noise of having your kid in the same house. Recently, we got Nico into a part-time, morning daycare situation and it has been brilliant to have that time completely to myself!

Your artwork examines the connections between water and the body. Using Bathing suits and environments associated with water you expose the lines between private, intimate, skin, exposure, clothing and the public space. Many of these lines also become blurry as one carries, delivers and cares for a young baby. Did the process of becoming a mother alter your perspective on the subjects of skin, exposure, intimate, and private? If so how?

Martincic-double ladder pool-etching

Etching – Double Ladder Pool

Oh for sure! I was fortunate enough to be able to have a home birth. I worked with a wonderful midwife throughout my pregnancy, birth, and post-partum. She helped to make all aspects of being pregnant and the birth to feel very natural, healthy, and non-medical. It was private in a way that is not possible in a hospital birth, which I imagine to be so exposing… and for me potentially disruptive to labor. But yes, any sense of modesty got thrown out the window, especially in those early days.

To be honest, I haven’t thought about that connection with my work, or my words about my work and how it comes full circle with this experience. So you have given me lots to think about.

Can you talk about your pool studies (#100daysh2o)? What have you taken away from a consistent practice of one form? Do you see these being reinvented on a larger scale?

Martincic-leisure pools 1-6-woodcuts

Leisure Pools – 1 thru 6 Wood Cuts

I started this project because I wanted to get back into a studio rhythm. I work best with some tangible deadline in mind. So making & then posting this #100daysh2o series on Instagram provides a goal that is very useful. Also, I needed to find a way to be more efficient with my limited chunks of studio time. It’s been a good challenge to make more quickly rather than laboring on one image for a long time, which was my usual way of operating.

I went into the series thinking about water in a more general sense. But right from the start that water was contained & these reduced aerial views of pools took shape. I’m only about a quarter of the way through the series… so I imagine things will evolve. I look forward to seeing where it goes and what will come of the collective group. And yes, I think all the time about how I’d like to see some of these on a larger scale!

Last fall the Signature Shop exhibited both independent and collaborative works made by you and your husband. In your own studio practices you both embrace minimalism and a similar color palette. Can you talk about the process of collaboration? How did the ideas start and progress? How does seeing your 2D shapes reinterpreted in 3D inform what comes next? Will there be future collaborations?

collab work-wave pool

Collaborative Work – Wave Pool

Joe and I are often bouncing ideas off one another and helping push each other on any number of studio matters. For a number of years, we would float the idea of making a body of work together and brainstorm about what form that might take. We took advantage of a recent two-person show opportunity to really invest studio time into making some collaborative work. We wanted to look at how our ideas & sensibilities would combine to make something new; to go beyond me just doing some surface drawing on his forms.

We used my “leisure pool” series, a series of woodcuts based on aerial views of backyard pool, as a springboard for the collaboration. And used the contour of these pools as the starting point for the “brick pools.” We are both really interested in materiality and wanted to see how Joe’s brick clay could inform my pool ideas and talk about containment. Joe would build and I would refine the form & do the surface work like waxing wave lines. We also did some functional pieces that embodied some of these pool ideas through the minimal, reduced lines & shapes. Maybe we will collaborate on another body of work in the future. But for now we both really need to invest the time we do have in our own work.

installing work w baby

Installing Work with Baby

Are there any projects, hobbies, or activities (ex. Running, knitting, tea connoisseur, arts organizations, volunteering, etc.) outside of your artistic practice that you feel passionately about? What are they? Do you find them feeding your practice? If so how?

I practice Iyengar yoga and I do some sewing projects here & there. I would love to know how to knit and learn to dye fabrics with natural dyes. I love swimming, but haven’t found any watering holes or pools in our area that I love. So I dream of swimming in turquoise Carribean waters or soaking in mountain hot springs; but in reality, we take our little one to the local pool to play around and teach him water skills.

Finally just for fun. If you were to make a playlist today what would be your top 5 favorite songs?

The Smiths / Girlfriend in a coma
Belle & Sebastian / Step into my office baby
Astrud Gilberto / Fly me to moon
Pulp / Common people
Jens Lekman / A postcard to Nina