When Denver artist Kristina Davies set out to paint her massive work “Deeply Rooted,” she had just discovered Lizzo and her 2019 album, Cuz I Love You. The painter, who had just retired from a career as a teacher, moved and danced to the record as she created her piece.
Her process, she says, is often fueled by music and driven by intuition. “Sometimes my eyes are closed. Sometimes I have both hands. So I'm feeling it, and when I'm doing that, I feel like I'm very tapped into some more spiritual, meditative essence of our humanness. And it's timeless, and it's archaic, and it's ancestral.”
“Deeply Rooted” inspired Interconnected, an exhibition of Davies’s large-scale, abstract pieces that the new street-art-oriented gallery ARTAOS has installed at Thrive Ballpark, 415 Park Avenue West, from May 21 through the end of June. (There's an opening reception Friday from 5 to 9 p.m.)
The figures and shapes in “Deeply Rooted," Davies explains, emerged from the canvas, and her job was to bring them to life. “If you look closely at that painting, it looks like a lot of human forms, but there’s also a lot of animal forms on the outside."
She was painting in Globeville, and the location influenced her work.
“These are some buildings that are changed from an old meatpacking plant,” she says. “I feel like when I'm painting, I'm picking up on the history of the land, history of our interaction with animals and the environment, with ourselves, each other, with the universe, with our ancestors.”
Davies has been drawing and painting since she was a kid, when her mother would encourage her to express herself freely. And soon Davies fell in love with painting.
“There's something about the brush and the viscosity of the paint flow that just appeals to me,” she explains.
Over the years, she’s taken inspiration from her peers in the Denver art scene and the abstract expressionists — in particular, women such as Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell and Helen Frankenthaler.
”I honestly don't feel better in any other place in my life than when in the act of painting,” she says. “So the act of creation just feels so good, because I feel like it's a time when I'm truly in the present moment.”
For Davies, art also has a therapeutic function, something she’s put to good use during the pandemic.
“Art heals,” she says. “So it’s healing for me during COVID, man...and it's still going on. But quarantine last spring? It was my saving grace to be able to paint and be creative.” Art is “not this thing that has to be super highbrow, or super this or that. It's raw. It's what makes us human.”
And it has the power to change the world.
“We can do better than what we've been doing,” she says. “I think social change is necessary. It has been necessary, if you look at it every time period, we’ve needed social change.”
When it comes to her artwork, Davies says she wants to evoke wonder and give viewers a chance to connect. “There's that idea of finding something in it that maybe helps them make sense of the world in an intangible way.”
What she loves more than anything is the way that people respond to abstract art, and as she gets ready for her installation at Thrive, she’s eager to watch the size of her paintings blow people away.
“A lot of them are really big, so I think people enjoy when they first see my paintings, seeing the size of them,” she concludes. “They've seen them online or on Instagram on this tiny screen, so I think that's kind of exciting when they actually get to see them in person. And then when you can see all the textures and the layers — because a lot of my paintings have so many layers, like twenty or more layers — I think when they see that depth, it’s exciting to them.”
Interconnected runs from May 21 through the end of June at Thrive Ballpark, 415 Park Avenue West. There will be an opening reception from 5 to 9 p.m. on Friday, May 21. For more information, go to the ARTAOS website.
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