Informed by Afrofuturism and Womanism (“Womanism is to Feminismas purple is to lavender”), I create paintings that use many variations of the color black to express the psychological effects of gender and race. I pull formal inspiration from the cosmos, environmental forms, and textures of the black body to visually convey the simultaneous limitations and liberations that I have associated with the color,cultures, and racial identity of blackness, and to express the ways that I use these socio-political identities as forms of protection from oppressive systems.
I use my extensive knowledge in paint-making technology and chemistry to make my own paint out of raw materials, creating a studio practice characterized by freedom, control, and fun. I mix high-resin acrylic polymers and water-based urethanes with rheology modifiers, industrial dry fillers and cosmetic powders such as glass powder, pumice, and color-shifting pigments to create paints with specific textures,viscosities, and light reflectivities within my suppressed, but limitless,black palette. I incorporate materials such as glitters, flock, hair extensions, false eyelashes, and acrylic nails to harken to craft and to celebrate the self-decoration that is culturally associated with black femininity. Mixing my own paint is a vital component to my studio practice that incites vulnerability, creating intimacy between me and the work that I can then share with the viewer through complex visual relationships. My materials are visually dynamic and demand a certain amount of viewer participation for the given information in the painting to be understood: an orb of glitter becomes a constantly shifting void, a grid of brushstrokes change color as the viewer moves around the painting, or a formation of stiletto nails becomes a weaponized shield.The paintings express psychological barriers that result from alienation and trauma while also reveling in the shelter of self-made safe spaces.Furthermore, they represent black female/femme bodies and culture not as politically charged free-for-all objects, but as beautiful experiences that are complex and cannot always be fully understood.
For my figurative work, I use my studio practice to create a safe space for black women to enjoy their own bodies. I work closely with each woman to avoid objectification, ensuring that I am ethical in my interpretations and representations of them. My models are very involved in the progress of each painting; they have a say in what parts of their bodies they want included or highlighted and make it known what that exclusion/inclusion means to them. My more recent abstract work utilizes the shapes of the circle and the shield as either planetary self-portraits or protective forms. I meditatively sculpt meticulous grids of brushstrokes and layers of paint using these shapes as a starting point, while also including small notes that express anything from personal rebellion against modernity, to calls to my community during times of political and social trauma. The allure of the skillful delicacy of these paintings pulls the viewer into worlds that oscillate between being superficially one-dimensional and complexly multi-dimensional, or seemingly ornamental and intriguingly existential. My paintings hone in on my worldly experiences while also staying aware of our small role as humans and individuals in the universe. These visual devices and studio practices demonstrate the ways that artistic spaces characterized bysocio-political identities can individually empower and challenge. I utilize painting to seek spiritual refuge while immortalizing black bodies.Using black to render both positive and negative space, I seek to exhibit the universality and regality of blackness.
• Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY — BFA Fine ArtsPainting, Class of 2014
2017 Group Show (forthcoming, Sept.), Women’s Work: A Festival of Art & Wellness – MINKABrooklyn
2016 Group Show, WAYFAIR – Goldilocks Gallery,Philadelphia, PA
2016 Group Show, Modern Goddesses – WorldMoney Gallery, Brooklyn
2016 Group Show, Through the Rabbit Hole IV –Sideshow Gallery, Williamsburg, NY
2015 Two-Person Show, Vortex/Clarity –Warehouse Pop-Up Gallery, Red Hook, Brooklyn
2014 Group Show, One or More, Part II – Kunsthalle Galapagos Gallery, Brooklyn
2014 Group Show, 13/1 – Warehouse Pop-UpGallery, Brooklyn
2014 Senior Thesis Painting Three-Person Show, DON’T START WITH ME. – Pratt Institute, Brooklyn2013 Salon Group Show – Palisades906, BrooklynPRIZES/AWARDS
2009 Art Achievement Award from Pratt Institute
2010 School Art League Saint Gaudens Medal forFine Draughtsmanship
2017 Artist-in-Residence, Museum of Arts andDesign’s Artist Studios Program, New York, NY
Anthony Philip Fine Art Blog. In The Studio With:
Christa Pratt. Web.http://www.anthonyphilipfineart.com/new-blog/2017/1/30/in-the-studio-with-3
ArtSlant. Under the Radar: Ashley Eliza Williams,Christa Pratt, Eden Auerbach Ofrat. Web.https://www.artslant.com/ny/articles/show/46392-b-stylecolor-333333under-the-radar-ashley-eliza-williams-christa-pratt-eden-auerbach-ofratb
ArtSlant. Christa Pratt Answers 5 Questions. Web.https://www.artslant.com/ny/articles/show/47972-christa-pratt-answers-5-questions
RELATED WORK EXPERIENCE
Paint Specialist/Asst. Store Manager, GuerraPaint & Pigment Corp., New York, NY – July 2014 –
Intern, New York Foundation for the Arts CuratorialDepartment, Brooklyn, NY– May 2014- August 2014
Intern, Warehouse Gallery, Brooklyn, NY — March 2014-May 2014