Artist: Krystal Ramirez
Exhibition: CSULB School of Art Holiday Art Sale
Gallery: Dr. Maxine Merlino Gallery
About the Artist
Are artists the product of necessity or of a personal desire to create? This week was a slightly different conversation than others I have been posting. Generally the artists I have been speaking with have a gallery devoted entirely to art they have created from a strong personal desire to share some kind of message. Their art may not have been pleasing to the average viewer, but that was alright because it was art not meant to be sold but to change perspectives or to appeal for action from the audience. This week was completely different however. The art shown was not made for the artist, instead it was made more for the pleasure of the audience. So no doubt this post will be somewhat different from my previous ones. The artist I interviewed this week is named Krystal Ramirez. Art may be her passion, but she finds time for many hobbies. Currently she most enjoys thrifting, antiquing, and crafting. We share these interests, and traded stories of the wonderful clothing that we have found for almost nothing. Krystal’s love of crafting has led her to her most immediate career choice as well. To wet her feet to the art world she would love to work at craft shows selling her own work. She believes her most desired works currently would be her jewelry. She was able to get into the field because she is studying in the metals program at CSULB. She is an undergraduate with plans to have her own gallery next semester. When asked why she chose jewelry over other paths for metals majors, she said the desire started in high school. Her school was always heavily focused on the arts, and when she took a jewelry making class, it became a love. We talked for a while about the art Krystal was selling and I came to learn it wasn’t a good reflection of art she most enjoys making. When asked if her art in this sale meant anything deeper than being functional or pretty, she scoffed and said not at all. While she is accomplished at making objects for sale to the general public, these objects don’t reflect the feelings she generally wants her art to have. I will explain the art she makes more for her own enjoyment later in this post, though I must mention something on a bit of a side note. Something interesting I have been doing is asking each artist during what time of day they most enjoy working, and with Krystal the time has been put almost unanimously as late at night. Just an interesting finding. The reasons have varied, and Krystal’s was that she enjoyed the peace and solitude.
Since, as I mentioned, this week was a little different I will describe both Krystal’s work in the gallery as well as describe the work she told me she generally does for her own enjoyment. For sale Krystal had two copper pots with succulents inside. The color was bright and shiny. They looked like they had been recently tooled with no evidence of patina. The shape was also quite rigid and cylindrical. They looked ordered and machined, quite a contrast to the more natural plants inside. Krystal also had a small selection of her jewelry, specifically earrings. They were made of cooler colored metal that may have been silver. They were hoops, but on close inspection it could be seen that they were not circular. Instead they were many-sided polygons. The edges were rounded, giving the overall pieces an organic feeling. They looked much like plant cell walls under a microscope. When asked to describe her work outside this gallery, Krystal said it is generally more utilitarian, with a continued influence of metals in most of her works.
One of the first questions I asked Krystal was what the difference is between art you do for others and art you do for yourself. The reason I asked was because I had so far exclusively interviewed artists about their galleries that they had made out of their own personal desires. There is a completely different dynamic when you make art to be sold, and I wanted to know Krystal’s take on this question. Her answer was more or less expected. Krystal said that art she makes to sell is generally more economical, as she put it. Generally they hold little personal value, but are objects that are either functional or pretty. They have her own unique flair, but they don’t mean anything special. Art she makes for herself is much different. Krystal says it is far more conceptual. Her art is not something to be used or worn, it is a tool to convey a message. She is most excited about the work she will feature in her upcoming gallery. Krystal does not yet have a name for her gallery, but she is decided on her theme. She has always had a great love of both nature and family, which has also become part of her artwork. Krystal’s work emphasizes most strongly the theme of connection. This comes from both her closeness to her family as well as having a garden full of edible plants like fruit trees. She enjoys her connections with others, and wants to use art to foster these connections. For Krystal, metals are the easiest tool for this. She hopes to create rather utilitarian objects to show how they can also be objects of interaction. Krystal hopes to show how objects like kitchenware are more than functional. They are also tools of intimacy. They are the objects we use in our homes generally for making meals which are in turn often the focal point of human interaction. In the age of social media, texting, and the internet, old-fashioned connection is a rare and precious commodity.
Synthesis/ My Experience
To begin I suppose I should answer my own question I posed at the beginning of this post similar to the one I asked Krystal. It’s a hard question to answer, and as much as I would love to have a strong opinion, I really don’t. I feel that artists can be formed from either, and it depends on the circumstances. I say this because I have seen both. I was having a caricature done once and struck up a conversation with the artist about how he got into the field. He said it was purely out of necessity. He needed money, and so he forced himself to practice until he could make a living from his works. He is quite talented now. But also I have seen many artists who choose art because it brings them joy, and become talented doing what they love more for themselves than for an audience. This leads to the question I asked Krystal about the difference between art we make for ourselves and that which we make for others. I enjoyed hearing her views because I too have often been in a position where I have been asked to make art for others. In church I would usually volunteer to make posters and paintings for activities. While I enjoyed making them, I often had to adjust my own ideas to fit my audience, because generally what I wanted to make didn’t fit the theme of the activity. This week was far different from the other activities, but in a way it was the most meaningful. From this discussion I feel I saw more the real side of art that isn’t always highlighted. Art made for ourselves and art made for others will always have a fundamental difference that may not always be recognized.