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A Magazine for Sheffield

Christina Mrozik: Grace & Precision

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We haven't had enough female artists on our pages of late, and what better way to start to redress the balance than with the emotive work of Christina Mrozik.

Based in the US, Christina seems to bring every piece of paper that crosses her desk to life - the kind of deep feeling, let alone technical prowess, that you just can't fake.

We interrogated her about her craft.

Why do you create art?

In me, it's the way in which curiosity manifests. And curiosity leads to learning, which leads to empathy, which leads to creative problem solving, and then communal growth.

What sparks ideas for new pieces and what is your working process?

Ideas seem to be quite mysterious in their form, often appearing without premonition or summoning. Sometimes they manifest out of the blue fully formed and ready to put down, while other times they unfold slowly from an aimless sketch. What is in my drawings mirrors my life and experience, and I often find the impactful stories of those I listen to - poets, writers, scientists, teachers and artists alike - an impactful guide.

What is in my drawings mirrors my life and experience

My process is very in-the-moment, whereas my thinking is rather slow. I like to sit for a long time in the morning if I can in a sleepy mental space. It's as close to the subconscious as I can get and it seems like ideas often come alive there. Usually I put pencil to final paper without much sketching and as I map the piece out, the idea changes and shifts to what feels best. I have to ask myself formal aesthetic questions of arrangement, but also find it very important to keep in mind the feeling I want the piece to evoke.

You seem to see creating art as a way of exploring the inner self. Does that make it quite emotionally demanding for you?

It is and it isn't--demanding, that is. I believe it's important to feel the feelings, see where they sit in your body, research their origins, and then do the work. Making the drawing is often what helps me organize my thoughts or feelings, acting as the filter for the subject matter of my life. Working through that process helps lend clarity to my thoughts and then gives me a clearer course of action. The demanding part isn't drawing as much as confronting the hard reality of myself with openness and curiosity and then learning how to share that with others. This is indeed difficult, but I think it's the required work of humanity.

At the end of 2015 you did some collaborative work with Zoe Keller. Do you have any other plans for collaboration in future?

In fact I do. Later this year I'll be setting aside some time to do a drawing and songwriting collaboration with my dear friend Dana Halferty around five themes. We are looking to investigate storytelling and metaphor via image and sound, with the hope that the viewer can immerse themselves into thoughtful spaces crafted simultaneously for their eyes, ears and heart.

What are your plans for 2017?

Years seem to slip away so quickly these days. After July, I'm hoping to disappear into Lake Superior and find some quiet spaces for me to think more fully and examine new ideas without the daily pressure cooker of non-stop commodity creating. My mind needs a little rest and a beautiful place to wake up to. I need to carve out a space to slow time down a bit and refocus, so I can act with more intention.

If you ever find yourself in this part of the world, you should come to Sheffield's natural history museum, the Alfred Denny Museum at the University. I have a feeling you'd like it.

In my dream life, this is probably where I would build a fort and live forever.

Sam Walby

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