Christine Sajecki

Q&A with Christine Sajecki & Gallery Director Laura Moriarty

LM: Describe some of the central themes of the work we see here.

CS: Migration, location, construction and disintegration, place as a character, atmosphere as a landscape, places where urban constructs and nature tangle together, self portraits - often involving carrying something, what we are and what we bring with us. There are a few works that reference books as objects, with a central spine and related images on the front and back cover.

LM: In your artist statement, you describe the mind as 'a place'. Can you elaborate on that a bit, and how it plays into your work?

CS: The mind as a place: very simply, how we feel changes where we are. We can see it with moods we're in, how it changes our surroundings, and sometimes the line is blurred between what is within and what is without. When I am painting a place, even if it's a simple landscape, I think of it as narrative. I include how I relate to it, how it is used, why it is used, where I come from and how I have arrived here. It's not all conscious, we store our experience in our bodies and it's our bodies that are painting, so the narrative comes out in our actions. Encaustic lends itself really well to the feeling of atmosphere charged with experience - the thickness and the way it traps and holds light.

For my last few years in Baltimore, my work dealt very much with the urban environment around me, where I felt very much at home. The story of immigrants making villages in urban environments, where they could, was the story of recent generations of my own family.

All the paintings shown here have been done since I moved to Georgia, and they feel very different to me, I feel very different here. This place is much more mysterious to me, and I think the work shows the struggle I've felt in finding where and how and if I belong.

LM: When you begin a new painting, do you have a clear idea of what story you want it to tell, or do you let it come out as you develop the work?

CS: I do, I have a clear idea when I start, and a plan of action to carry it out, and then the medium ALWAYS schools me. Sometimes it comes back around full circle, and more often the story changes once I see it in paint. I see something that interests me in how the paint lays down and I follow it. Often I have a whole narrative in mind and then the painting just becomes about the travels of one piece of light, the other details become incidental. I'm open to these changes, the story I have in mind when starting becomes an outline that the paint populates and animates as the main character.

LM: How do you ideally want your paintings to function? Are you concerned with what they convey?

CS: If they have any effect at all, for anyone, I'm pleased.

LM: What are you working toward at the moment?

CS: I have a show coming up in Savannah in May, that I'm in deep, thick -- I've got several very large brand new paintings, all in progress right now! I'm trying something different - sometimes that changing narrative that I mentioned above causes some serious over-painting. There might be 12 paintings on one panel (see Wave.. I painted that one for probably 4 months before I flipped it upside down and started over.) It makes for a rich surface, a palimpsest and a history of marks and time, but for these paintings I'm pursuing only one idea. If I have a new idea, I start a new painting. I stop and put the painting aside once I'm unsure what I'm doing next. The next painting informs the last one, they are all working together and from each other. I might work something out on a different panel then come back to the first. Or else just keep going on more new ones. The process so far is really lovely, I'm enjoying this way of working, but the end result is yet to be seen. I like hanging onto that potential for longer, and leaving a painting while it still has so many possibilities. I love that tension. 

The show will be at 1704 Lincoln ( where many of my favorite local and regional artists have shown, and the gallerist, Blanche Nettles Powers, is also an artist I admire. The body of work is called (working title) "American Villages", and deals with the vast open spaces my husband and I were admiring when we drove out west this winter, and the little isolated habitats within them.  There is a subtext of transportation, as America is always in transit. I'm using mud from the Piedmont mixed in with my wax, and medium made from local unpurified beeswax. The intrinsic beauty of these materials is helping me to work simply.