NOTES ON PRACTICE
My work lands in drawing, painting, photography and time based media. To connect the interior life, the life of the spirit, with and through landscape is a constant. Because of this obsession my work is often concerned with site, topologies and the sense of place. As a practice that draws on the spaces of experience in the land, my art mediates 'seismic memory' -- or, the concept that post traumatic stress disorder is pandemic and exists in a cybernetic feedback loop with the environments people create to control 'nature'. The prospect of working 'in' nature, in practice becomes an extended study of site and meditation on architectural, writerly, textual and sculptural interventions within a matrix of abstract painting and drawing. My invented landscapes arise from the heart space of experience of a broken world. Yet, and, they are for me, and I hope for those who meet in them, landscapes that animate and expand, like waves of voices, a choreosonic witness to the joy of life.
I consider the construction of landscape as a performance of voice. Landscape is literally manifest, or comes into vision and touch, through the process of a visual speech. The writing desire, the writing through the body, all are close cognates from literature and lyrics that, like chimera, haunt the studio practice. I draw as a first form of encounter. Chroma, crowded, unruly and restless, move between cacophonies in simultaneous contrast, when I move into paint. Some implied metonomy opens up, between the sculptural solidity of the canvas on a formal level and the discognitive iris of my eyes. Is there a largesse here, a fire of encounter, for healing?
I come from settler stock, from folks who sought religious freedom in America, coming from Sorbian clans in Saxony, from East Frisia alongside the North Sea, and from teachers and preachers in lands near Osnabruck, all in the nineteenth century. I was born in Los Angeles where my parents were schoolteachers, and raised on the Great Plains. My chief joys in childhood were watercolor, drawing, exploring creek bottoms and patches of virgin prairie on my bike. A love of huge sky-spaces inspired me to imagine doors in time, as if suspended in the air, portals to invisible spaces simultaneously present to the ordinary life of bugs, plants, my skinned knees and summer thunderstorms. Landscape came naturally to me as a mode of thought, surrounded as I was by the more-than-human worlds. I have been blessed with the gift of time to make work over three decades, with the enormous love and support of my family, especially my children, Molly and Ian; my daughter in law Rebecca, and my partner, Terry.
In former days around here, people say they could walk across the backs of the salmon as they shot upstream to spawn. So rich was the life of this world. May it come to be so again.Thank you for spending time with and in it with me.
Christina McPhee makes collapsing and regenerating landscapes that blend technological precision with notions about place-making and interspecies community. Her work across media including painting, photomontage, video, and multimedia performance, is a celebration of improvisation in drawing, and links visual art to sonic and scientific topologies around the sense of place. She lives and works as an uninvited guest in the unceded territories of Chumash and Salinan communities in central coast California. Christina McPhee was born in 1954 in Pomona, Los Angeles County, California. Her undergraduate studies were at Scripps College, Claremont, and the University of Nebraska; later she earned the BFA in painting and printmaking at Kansas City Art Institute, where she was a student of Stanley Lewis and Wilbur Niewald (1976). She studied with Philip Guston at Boston University for the MFA in painting (1979), during his last year of mentoring young painters. As a teaching artist, she has been honored with residencies at the HumLab at the University of Umea, Sweden; Columbia College Chicago, Scripps College (as Langland Alumnae in Residence); and as lecturer in the Digital Arts and New Media MFA program at University of California-Santa Cruz. She is a 2019 Ucross Foundation Fellow.
Museum collections of her work include the International Center of Photography, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and Rhizome at the New Museum, New York; and American museums in the midwest and west, among them the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Sheldon Art Museum and Great Plains Art Museum at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and most recently, Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at Washington State University. Internationally, she has shown with Documenta 12 (Germany), the ICA (UK), MAMM (Colombia), Thresholds New Media (Scotland), Split Festival of New Media and Film (Croatia), among others. Her solo museum exhibitions include "Carrizo-Parkfield Diaries" at the American University Art Museum-Katzen Art Center and at the Bildmuseet, Umea, Sweden. Her work has shown with contemporary art galleries including Jessica Silverman Gallery, San Francisco; and Sara Tecchia Roma New York. Recent solo exhibitions in public project and kunsthalle spaces include KinoSaito Art Center in the Hudson Valley, New York (2022), Osos Contemporary, San Luis Obispo (2022), Irenic Projects, Pasadena (2020), WireFrame Gallery at the University of California-Santa Barbara (2018), and Cerritos College Art Gallery, Norwalk (LA) (2016). Notable group exhibitions include Otherwise/Revival at Bridge Projects, Los Angeles (2021) (catalog), Water in a Dry Land at the Great Plains Art Museum (2023), and Here in a Homemade Forest: Common Reading Connections, at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art WSU, Pullman (2023-2024) alongside prints from Crows Shadow Press. She will be re-staging Carbon Song Cycle, a live, collaborative multi-screen chamber performance work created with composer and singer Pamela Z, at the Exploratorium, San Francisco, in August 2023. Carbon Song Cycle was awarded a MAP Fund for Performance grant for its development and debut production at Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive in 2013, as well as a funding from New Music USA's Commissioning Music USA program with New Music Bay Area
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