Written by Erika L. Block
Kristen Bartel is a print-based artist currently living and working in Southeast Wisconsin. Combining her love of contemporary print media with a strong background in traditional printmaking, her present work uses traditional print techniques along with drawing, photography and digital media.
Her work comes from a place of authenticity, and often stems from her desire to examine the common constructs of success, comfort, beauty and ownership, in connection to her personal relationships with landscape, climate, natural resources and American culture. Most recently, Kristen has been exploring the impact of consumer culture on natural resources. She draws from personal experiences and histories to construct collage-like works on paper, although unlike typical collage work, the images are all her own. “My visual interpretations often expose contradictions.” She is interested in a vast number of intriguing ideas, such as the human impact on land and resources for the sole purpose of beauty, which then invites the question of whether beauty is found or made. Kristen is always happy when her work ignites important conversations among its audience.
Kristen’s mother recently lost her home to Hurricane Harvey, which has also made a profound impact on her life and work. “I already had a pretty significant amount of work made about weather, impact of culture on environment, and water as a natural resource. Helping my mom clean up after that flood was pretty impactful, and those images have often made it into my work.”
The basic essentials of her workspace are natural light, walls and tables. The most important tools in her process are her printing press, camera, and printer. “I love tools, and I love techniques. You can probably see that love in my work since I make a very wide variety of work using a wide variety of processes.” Technique and process are of the utmost importance to Bartel, and she strives to be proficient in her chosen mediums. Her work over that past few years has been all about refining her technical skills individually, then ultimately combining those processes and observing how it alters the meaning of the imagery. “If I had to predict the future, I would say that the cocktail of processes is going get more complex and developed before it simplifies.”
To learn more about Kristen Bartel and her work, please visit:
Erika L. Block is a professional writer and designer working exclusively with the art, music, publishing, film and fashion industries. She is also a contemporary mixed media artist.
Stay connected: instagram.com/erikalblock