Christina Cioffari is an artist and designer based out of Brooklyn, NY.
Her work explores themes of identity, psychology, metaphysics, and temporality through abstraction and patterns. She works intuitively to create works that examine the duality of our physical and emotional connections to one another within an increasingly digital community. Despite our frequent interactions through various screens, the desire for the tangible persists. This universal yearning for the tangible serves as the basis of inquiry for her work.
Her artwork includes painting, drawing, mixed media, and digital art. Notable past exhibitions of her work include BRIC Arts Media (New York) in 2017, Mercedes Benz Financial Services (Michigan) in 2015 and 2016, and the Cranbrook Art Museum (Michigan) in 2016.
She received an MFA (2D Design) from Cranbrook Academy of Art in 2016 and a BA (Anthropology, Studio Art) from Skidmore College in 2007. Additionally, Christina has studied art and design at the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon, ISIA Urbino Werkplaats Typografie Summer School in Urbino, Italy, and the School for International Training in Apia, Samoa.
Hi Christina! Could you please introduce yourself to our readers? How did it all start for you in the world of art? Were you an artistic soul from an early age?
Christina: I am a practicing artist and graphic designer based in Brooklyn, NY. I have always considered myself an artist, as I child I enjoyed drawing, painting, and photography. I participated in an honors art course in high school and studied art and design throughout college and graduate school. Making artwork has served as a means of self-expression, a way for me to communicate visually what words can not. My work currently focuses on painting, drawing, mixed media, and digital prints.
What is a day of working like in your studio? Do you have any rituals that help you get motivated or in “the zone”?
Christina: I typically start out in the studio by sketching. I like to organize my thoughts and the intention of a piece by drawing, in a similar way to writing an outline before sitting down to write a story. I also get a lot of inspiration from the books I read, so reading poetry or philosophy books also often serves as a starting point for me. Then I set up my working space, mix paints, gather materials, and start making. I work intuitively and allow the artwork to develop organically. I always like to have music playing while I work too. The type of music really
depends on the mood I am in. Sometimes its jazz or Tibetan singing bowls if I am working on a more mediative piece, or electronic dance music if I am wanting something more high energy.
Your work explores themes of identity, psychology, metaphysics, and temporality through abstraction and patterns. Tell us a bit more about this. How do you choose a subject, and is there a message you are trying to send with each piece or is it something else?
Christina: Each piece is really its own exploration into a subject. A lot of my work is inspired by personal experiences I have had or ideas that arise while I am reading. For example, I was reading a book called Bluets which inspired me to create a series of gradient prints that related to the poetic, moody quality of the writing. I am currently reading Taoist philosophy and making work that explores how to live in the moment and accept change not resist it. I have a series of paintings that are abstract “portraits” of people I have been in relationships with. The color choices and line quality of the paint express the energy and feeling of a person rather than their physical qualities. I also like to translate my dreams into artwork, using symbols and color to recreate the sentiment of the dream. I am not so much trying to send a message but rather express an idea, a feeling, or pin down a memory in a way that creates a response in the viewer. I think it is interesting to see how other people interpret my work. The space between my thinking while making the piece, and the ideas that are brought up in the viewer is what really interests me about creating work.
How do you keep your ideas fresh?
Christina: I regularly look at other artists’ work, I am an avid reader, and I love to travel. These activities all serve as inspiration for fresh work. I also enjoy experimenting with different painting styles and using different materials or mediums. A new approach I have been playing with lately is cutting up old paintings and using them to collage and draw with.
Do you have a real-life situation that inspired your artwork?
Christina: Yes, I think my life experiences are deeply enmeshed in my work. The people I meet and the memories I create often end up in my artwork in either a direct or subverted way. I am very interested in mediation and so some of my drawings use repetition, such as repeating shapes or statements, which serves as an active meditation for me in the studio.
What is the work you’ve done that you’re the most excited about?
Christina: I am excited about the works I have done on glass and plexiglass. It’s fun to experiment with printing and painting on new materials, not just using the traditional canvas. Share some interesting facts about your art with us. The largest piece I have made is a 7 x 5 feet print on glass and weighs 200 pounds! It was quite a feat to hang that one. I only sign my work on the back because I don’t like how a signature interrupts a composition of artwork when on the front.
What is the biggest challenge you have had to overcome and how did you do it?
Christina: I found talking about my artwork to be challenging at first. My work is very personal so it felt like I was wearing my heart on my sleeve. The more I show my work through the easier it has become. I think I realized that the personal nature of other artists’ work is a big part of what makes it interesting to me, so I feel more inclined to be open about my own work’s subject matter because of that.
Besides art and design, do you have any hobbies, something you like to do in your free time?
Christina: I love to cook. I enjoy experimenting in the kitchen and find cooking relaxing and just another creative outlet for me really. I also try to meditate every day, it helps keep me sane and especially since the pandemic began. I also like hiking a lot, wandering in the forest or mountains is very grounding for me.
What’s next on the horizon for Christina?
Christina: I hope to continue showing my work in galleries and museums more often. I look forward to collaborating with other artists more in the future as well. I am currently hosting a sale of a large body of my artwork on my website, so I hope to see my work up in people’s homes and offices more often too!