Christina A. West is a sculptor living in Atlanta, GA. She earned her BFA from Siena Heights University (Adrian, MI) in 2003, and her MFA from Alfred University (Alfred, NY) in 2006. Christina has extensively exhibited her work across the country in venues such as the The Bellevue Arts Museum (Bellevue, WA), The Bemis Center for Contemporary Art (Omaha, NE), Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center (Buffalo, NY), Plug Projects (Kansas City, MO), the Mindy Solomon Gallery (Miami, FL), and Atlanta Contemporary (Atlanta, GA). Additionally, Christina’s work has been supported by grants and fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, The Archie Bray Foundation for Ceramic Arts, the George Sugarman Foundation, and the Southeastern College Art Conference. Christina is an Associate Professor at Georgia State University.
All of my work begins with an interest in interiority—the thoughts, feelings, psychology within our bodies—often highlighting the inherent mystery, or inaccessibility, of interiority.
My installations consist of multiple sculptural figures placed together in a gallery space, with the color of the figures, the altered coloration of the space, and, sometimes, the direction of the figures’ gazes suggesting relationships among the figures. The hints of narrative among the figures are open-ended and ambiguous, with emphasis placed on the uncanny experience of encountering these smaller or larger-than-life bodies that are at once familiar and strangely other. I begin with questions about the relationship of the exterior to the interior, the limits of what we can know about other people given that we never have direct access to their interiority, and how our physical encounters with representations of bodies can affect perceptions of our selves. The resulting figures pull us into their fictional realities with a high degree of naturalism and notions of the private made public, while simultaneously pushing us away (or creating a psychological distance) with their unrealistic scales and unnatural colors that assert their object-ness.
In addition to my installation work, I also regularly sculpt portraits. I use the portrait bust format because I'm interested in the expectation we place on portraiture to reveal something about an individual's interiority. I have always felt that making inferences about a person's psychology or personality from physical likeness is a highly flawed practice, though we make such inferences instinctively. In the “Unmet” series, I create portrait busts that disrupt the impulse to read into facial features or expression by removing much of the figure's likeness. Features are removed, leaving flat, colorful planes that become abstract suggestions of the figures’ interiority. These busts are cast solid with multiple colors in their interiors. I carve into the faces of the figures after they are cast, excavating strata of color that present unpredictable shapes and patterns. The interiors allude to cross-sections seen in anatomy books, while also suggesting something about the complexity of character and psychology that make others so mysterious.