Krystina Plante’s experience completing a 4 year art program at Central Technical School helped to give her a head start for her printmaking career at OCAD U. She enjoys photography and sculpture, but printmaking is the one thing she “craves doing.” I was fortunate enough to witness her passion for print while she completed her residency here at XPACE.
Krystina Plante: I think it’s a little bit of a couple of things – the fact that it is so technical, it’s a skill that you have to learn – there’re so many steps and there’s a lot of chemistry, you have to follow things like a recipe. I like that it’s not just something you do on a whim; you really have to study and practice at it and then you become good and then it’s easy. But I like that it challenges you. There are so many things you can do in printmaking – you can combine it with so many other art forms, so it’s very versatile.
JC: What method of printmaking do you use most often?
KP: My favourite printmaking mediums are lithography and intaglio and most recently I got into book-binding which was something new for me that I learned at OCAD. My entire thesis was miniature books filled with prints. There were over 400 prints in all these books and it was on hoarding and collecting. Something else that I only learned recently that draws me to printmaking is the multiple. The fact that you can have so many of one thing... I think as my practice continues that is something that is recurring in my work. For example, in my thesis it was about excess and bulk. Now with the project that I am working on here I am realizing that it is about multiples again. A single thing takes on a whole new meaning when it is multiplied.
JC: Tell me more about the project that you are working on here at XPACE.
KP: I brought my blue print to show you (see photo). I am mapping my genealogy – it’s like a family tree. The reason I’m doing it is because a lot of my family has been adopted or displaced so most of them I haven’t met, or I know very little about them. For example, I just found out that my grandfather has 4 siblings and I just found out his mother’s name... Because he fled Latvia because of the war when he was 9 and he hasn’t seen his family since so it’s not something he ever wants to talk about. There’s so much I don’t know... my grandmother has 15 brothers and sisters who all live in England, most of whom I haven’t even seen photos of... My mom, my uncle and my aunt were all adopted from different families... There’s just a lot of unknowns so that’s why I’ve wanted to tackle this for a while.
JC: How long has this been something that you have wanted to do?
KP: I’ve wanted to touch on the subject matter for a while, but I only really thought of this idea after I got this residency which gave me the opportunity to make this big body of work that is funded and exhibited. By the time I came to my orientation for the residency I had this idea in mind and got started on it. I’ve been really strapped for time though because it’s been a lot of trouble-shooting. For example, I started making all of the boxes in wood and had completed 14 of them before realizing that it wasn’t going to work because I was using 1 x 6’s which people usually buy for making fences and don’t care if the wood is warped. I went through the entire bin and their new shipment - they were all warped, so unless I wanted to spend about 20.00 on one plank of pine (which I wouldn’t have been able to afford) I had to change my materials.
JC: Did you construct each of the 14 wooden boxes yourself?
KP: Yes, I made them at my dad’s house and used his tools... he hovered for a bit just to make sure I wasn’t going to break anything! So the construction of those really set me back in my timeline. I think I’ve tried to tackle something pretty big and budgeting time is always kind of hard.
JC: I think it’s almost poetic that the project you are working on is about family and here are your mom and dad, helping you put it together. Does that make it mean more to you?
KP: I think it does because as much as it disappoints me that there’s so much about my family that I don’t know, I’m really lucky with the central core group that I have because we’re so close. So I think it does reinforce that even more – having that help and knowing that these people are there for me.
JC: How do you see this residency affecting your future work? Is this a project that you plan on building on?
KP: I think that it might be a project that I will revisit down the road when I have unlimited time to maybe do some tweaks just to further it even more and maybe contacting those people that I don’t know and building those relationships and including that in the body of work. But I think for now, this is a good opportunity for me to gain some exposure and interact with the people here at XPACE who are such an asset to me because they are trying to help out. As opposed to a lot of other places that don’t see students as artists but as “artists in training,” which is really frustrating. I think it’s great to have people that are supporting those of us that other people don’t want to. It’s a really great opportunity to network and explore new things.
JC: What are you going to take away from this residency?
KP: This residency has really acted as a learning curve for me. Learning how to think on my feet and how to quickly recover when something doesn't work as planned (it's been trial and error almost every step of the way for me so I've gotten better at troubleshooting), budget money, and more importantly budgetting time! One month is not a long time at all if you have ambitious plans and I know now more than ever that if you give yourself one day to do something it's going to take two!
JC: Any future plans or projects?
K: Yes, I do have a project that I am going to be starting soon. It’s stemming from my thesis body of work which was, Life In Bulk. At our thesis show and at the grad show I had a tall drawer unit where people could add to my collection by leaving whatever they wanted. Some people would come back with something to leave; some people would just leave whatever they had in their pockets. It is completely full now. I am going to be working on a really long body of work which is a book and it’s going to be binding the narratives in all of those objects – my own narrative about who each of the objects came from and what purpose it served... So it’s going to be a long, ongoing body of work.