Christina Massey’s work has exhibited extensively in over a dozen solo exhibitions including such locations as the Blackbird Gallery in NYC, Dacia Gallery in NYC, Noyes Art Museum in Atlantic City, Rush Arts Galleries in NYC and Brown University in Providence, RI. She has won multiple awards for her work including most recently an FST StudioProject Fund Grant, Brooklyn Arts Fund Grant, SIP Fellowship at the EFA Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop, Puffin Foundation Grant and Mayer Foundation Grant. Massey’s work has been featured in such publications as Hyperallergic, Art Spiel and Art Fuse and is in the collections of the Janent Turner Museum, Art Bank Collection in DC, and multiple private collections.
Massey is the creator and curator of the WoArtBlog highlighting the work of contemporary female identifying artists. She is the creator of the USPS Art Project, a mail art collaboration initiative created in April of 2020 that has resulted in hundreds of artists participating and became a traveling/thematic exhibition showing in fives states and counting. The project was featuring on ARTnet News, Visionary Projects, ABC News and more.
She currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.
Hello, dear Christina! A real pleasure to interview you! To start with, could you please introduce yourself and your background?
Hello! Thank you so much for this opportunity to share my work with you. I am a mixed media abstract artist based in Brooklyn, NYC, however I grew up on the other side of the US, in California. I grew up in a very outdoorsy family, even working as a white water raft guide during my college years to pay for tuition, and I bring that same respect and love of Nature into the studio, even in my very industrial neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY. My upbringing definitely has influenced the way that I go about creating my work. I use a lot of repurposed materials and found objects such as aluminum cans, plastics and fabrics, this is all based in this philosophy of wanting to be a creator that is environmentally conscious.
What is your art about? What is the principle message behind your work?
My work uses abstraction and relationship to material and process to draw connections about consumer choice to the environment, personal identity to the Art World itself.
Using a combination of found repurposed objects such as repurposed craft beer cans with traditional materials like canvas and acrylic paint, I create heavily dimensional abstract paintings and mixed media sculptures by hand stitching and weaving the materials together into their forms. Nature’s influence can be seen particularly in the sculptural work, but references to other industries such as fashion appear through the use of discarded clothing and fabrics to the craft beer industry itself by allowing texts and bar codes to sneak out from under layers of paint.
The works are intentionally complex, full of dualities and intentionally in-between several descriptive terminologies. They are simultaneously painting and sculpture, process based and conceptual, and play with distinctions between craft and fine art.
You are full of different artistic personalities: mixed media artist, creator, writer, curator. Could you share with us your most unforgettable experience and feelings being such a creative person! What are the most inspiring parts and what are challenging parts of your work?
Thank you! Over this pandemic period has actually been a truly inspiring time. I am based in Brooklyn, NY where the pandemic hit particularly hard in the beginning. I was overwhelmed with a sense of wanting to do something to help society in some way, feeling isolated and unsure of what to do in my own artwork when the idea occurred to me to create an initiative for any artist to do that chose to. Essentially, I asked artists to partner up, each start and artwork and send it to the other to finish in the mail. The idea was both to create connection while socially distanced, but to also help our postal system which I felt was extremely important in a voting year and a very important election approaching. To my surprise, the project which started with a small group of friends quickly grew to over 1000 artists participating across the country and even abroad. It then turned into a hybrid traveling / thematic exhibit that showed in 6 different states. It was so uplifting to see how the project pulled so many artists out of that "funk" of not knowing what to do, myself included, and I feel like I made hundreds of new friends during a time when we really had to be separated from each other. It's easily been one of the most unforgettable experiences as I just never could have expected it would catch on the way that it did and that it would help so many people. It was a lot of work, and challenging to keep up with during the peak of it, commenting and sharing on social media became a full time job in itself, not to mention the hours and hours of time spent organizing and arranging the exhibitions, but I was lucky enough to have an incredible group volunteer to help me out, and relieve some of that work load and have helped to make it even better.
Please, tell us more about WoArtBlog! What is the vision for this project?
WoArtBlog started during the MeToo period. I wanted to do something to help gain exposure to the incredible amount of women artists who have not been given equal representation and visibility in the Art World. It began as more of a traditional blog, interviewing artists, however I transitioned into the Instagram account which I feel is a better fit for me, and allows me to share a lot more artists. I select posts not only for their visual content, sharing artworks and artists that I feel deserve some attention, but in a blog storytelling manner.
So for example, if I happen to be getting a haircut that day, I might share an artwork that used hair. Or if there was a big hurricane that hit a certain area, I might look for local artists there to give a feature to. I also curate independently, so this is a bit like a visual portfolio in a way for my curatorial approach and style.
You have a rich exhibition history, which exhibition was the most remarkable in your artistic path so far and why?
Oh a few. My first solo show in New York I was particularly proud of. It was a small non-profit space, and I had only about 2 weeks to throw it together as the opportunity came rather unexpectedly. They apparently had been considering my proposal for a future installation where I would have had much more time to prepare when someone canceled on them at the last minute. I took the opportunity and ran with it. The proposal had included work that hadn't even been created yet, so it forced me into a very quick deadline and that frenzy really inspired some huge progress in my work. There have been some group exhibitions that have really inspired me as well. I was curated into a group show a couple years ago at a gallery that was a very unique space. Imagine a wide entry hall, with about 6 double doors that enter into the space, and in the middle of that wide hall, a glass enclosement in a kind of kidney bean shape is where artwork is shown, so the viewers are really seeing into this glass enclosed space versus walking through it. The curator took a very creative approach and made it almost feel like a teraminum, and the artworks had such a wonderful connection and flow. I loved that it made me think much differently about how people would experience and see the work, which again has inspired how I have approached other projects going forward. So for me, I guess my favorite shows are the ones that even in the process of hanging them and exhibiting, inspires future works to come.
We would like to know a little more about your current projects/exhibitions or planned ones!
Like many artists, my shows for this year were all cancelled due to the pandemic. Several galleries I had been working with had to close, so those opportunities unfortunately will not be coming back or rescheduled. But, I am an optimist, so I think having a relatively open calendar allows me to take advantage of opportunities I couldn't have otherwise. I have been putting proposals out there with new spaces, and looking into more residencies that I typically have in the past, so I have several projects waiting for confirmation that I can't quite officially announce just yet. I also have some curatorial projects that will be coming up in fall, which it's also too soon to be announced, so you'll have to wait! Meanwhile, I have started hosting a room on Clubhouse called Artists who AND... which is hosted by the Pep Talk for Artists Club. Those are weekly on Wednesdays at noon (ET.) Anyone can join and listen in.