Artist Karsten Creightney uses multiple mediums to create quilt-like canvases


November 11—Editor’s note:

The Journal continues the monthly “From the Studio” series with Kathaleen Roberts, as she takes a close look at an artist.

Karsten Creightney mixes several mediums to create an imaginary patchwork from leftovers.

An assistant professor of printmaking at the University of New Mexico, the Albuquerque native exhibits his work at the Richard Levy Gallery in Albuquerque.

Creightney cobbles together his compositions using snippets of old paintings and prints, old books, magazines, and paper to create imaginary landscapes out of shards of chaos.

The artist received his bachelor’s degree from Ohio’s Antioch College before returning to complete the Tamarind Institute’s professional printer training program. He earned his master’s degree at UNM.

Creightney wanted to be a writer before he discovered the joys of piecing his quilt-like canvases together.

“I was good at English,” he said. “I had gotten a scholarship. I think in Antioch I learned to express myself beyond words. It felt more honest to me. I would just waste time doing art, whereas the writing was always very cerebral.”

His lush work, often overflowing with flowers, may seem decorative, but it is sometimes political.

It all starts with engraving.

“I’ve always loved drawing,” Creightney said. “But engraving has this extra level of process and technology that I really like.

“The multiple aspect of printmaking takes away the preciousness of what I do,” he continued. “I can experiment with them, paint one on it, cut one out. The process allows me to let go of control a bit. I like to react to the material. That’s also why I like collage; I work with things that already exist. I try to make it a collaborative thing even if it’s with myself.”

Breaking pieces of paper together speaks to the fragmentation of the digital age, he added.

The floor of his studio is littered with scraps, scraps and discarded pieces of paper.

“I think our reality is really fragmented,” Creightney explained. “Our attention is very scattered. We access all kinds of things in a very different way than people. So many engravers have this hoarder mentality.

“Even a tiny bit of ink on it, I find it beautiful,” he said. “Even though it’s the remains that I cut from another object. I’m just finding ways to use it all up.”

At first glance, “Superpredator,” a 2022 work of lithography, magazines, and paint, appears to be a bucolic landscape.

A closer look reveals a tiny golfer hidden in the greenery.

“Sometimes my work has a political side to it,” Creightney said. “I was reacting to the idea that even the Democrats had this idea of ​​super predators – usually young brown or black males. There was this new type of criminal related to gang violence. I thought, ‘Who are the real predators that cause pain?’ It’s those men on the golf course who make more money in their sleep than we do in a lifetime. What’s really going on is far more insidious.

“Painting made from stolen footage” is exactly what the title describes, he said. It all started when Creightney took a snapshot of a “No Looting” sign in Chicago.

“It was interesting that the ‘No wandering’ sign was in English and Spanish and in different fonts,” he said.

“I started thinking about the immigration debate. It’s like we want to pick and choose from parts of our history. You could see pilgrims as illegal aliens. It’s very one-sided, it’s very hypocritical and that negates the story. There’s this juxtaposition with the skulls representing the story and the flowers being the story that we tell ourselves.”

Creightney also began with canvas collages, often using the old Time-Life books he remembers growing up.

“I’ll just print patterns or find images of flora to create pictures and paste them onto the canvas randomly,” he said.

“Crazy Selector”, 2022, represents this technique.

“It has no political idea behind it,” Creightney said. “It’s more about responding to form and using those remnants that are left over. It’s a challenge for me to use something that’s thrown away. It’s abstract, but there are still flowers there- in it. There’s this catharsis that happens by breaking all those pieces. This new digital age feels like we’re breaking all those pieces.”


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