Photographer and world traveler, Krista Valdez discusses her year of self reflection and exploration as well as her work to be shown in "Bodies on Display."
Can you tell us a little bit about the pieces you're planning to show at Westminster Press?
Over the past year Ive spent most of my time trying to understand my identity in a social sphere. I often would strip down metaphorical and literally to examine what was affecting my current state. The documentation of my body occurred within my own apartment which mimics that of my own inner self; quiet, isolated, and often removed of decadence and clutter. It was only until I spent three weeks alone in Europe, this spring, that I was able to discover myself outside of this comfortable context. The isolation and loneliness saturated my mood more than I could have anticipated. I took the opportunity to use the new unfamiliar surroundings as an emotional soundboard. What I present is what developed out of the overwhelming discomfort and separation I pushed through on my own. Where my old self and new life existed together in that transitory moment.
How does the theme of "Bodies" enter your work?
I started using my own body as a subject a little over a year ago. I had been thinking abstractly about my presented self through sculpture prior to the transition. I had yet to confront my actual body. By being afraid to acknowledge my actual skin, I was unintentionally paralyzing my ability to fully let go and express myself. Using my body, specifically in the nude, allows me to interject my emotional state and ideas into my work in the most honest way. These moments I create revolve around the idea of being uncomfortable. Being in a personal space with myself creates a genuine representation of who I am and how I feel in a particular moment of my life.
What artists currently inspire your personal practice?
I have a lot of influences through different stages of my work but most prominently: Francesca Woodman, Edward Hooper, Edward Weston, noell oszvald, Mark Rothko
How do you feel about working in St. Louis?
Im originally from California and didn’t move to St. Louis until 2009. It took me awhile to get acquainted with the city and the art scene. I learned fairly quickly that you start to see the same people out at openings. It can be intimidating to understand the social dynamics and navigating through connections. I told myself very early on that all I need to do is stay genuine and get to know people naturally. Talk to those who inspire me and I connect with on a personal level.
St Louis Community College - Meramec has been a safe place to develop my work and for the price of a class, you can’t beat the facilities. Plus the faculty there is engaging and nurturing.
On another note, as a photographer, instagram was a miracle that sparked the fire under me to create. It’s become a huge platform for my work, not only in St. Louis but having the potential to connect world-wide. Ive had the opportunity to meet many of the artists in St. Louis through social media. The app gives insight into the daily process of an artist however they chose to share.
If anything, the lack of photographic recognition is what inspires me to work hard while I’m in St. Louis. Ive seen much growth in the medium but I feel there is much catching up to do in the city. There’s much untapped talented here and the city should start taking notice of it’s relevance, especially if social media has already caught on. Im excited to see more of the work being presented in exhibits.
What are you most excited about this summer?
More solo road-trips through this lovely country. Any opportunity to travel alone and get to know myself while discovering new places. I actually found a beautiful hostel in the forest where you can stay in tree houses and skinny dip. Im anxious to make my way there and hopefully create more work. Other than that, I have a trip to Nova Scotia. I hope to do some cycling on the Cabot Trail.