Kerith & Krystal HartAn Interview with artists Kerith & Krystal Hart

by Art + Dialogue intern Maddie Fritz

M: How has your style developed through the years and how did you, as an artist, arrive at the works that are featured in the show?

Krystal: My style grew through my doodles and Kerith’s through painting. You couple that with my travel, and my style grew all throughout that process. Well both of us, we got in the call, and we decided we should do it together just for the sake of it, and I guess that’s the main purpose behind it. And we really talked back and forth and used our gears so we could really work together and it wouldn’t be just one style but both of our voices at the same time.

M: You mentioned your travels: where have you been?

Krystal: I was in NY for a while, but I’ve traveled to Africa, and central Asia, a lot of places that have a massive landscape, so you know, the mountains, I was always looking at the mountains along the central Asian and Chinese border. I was in a huge city so I got really inspired by those vast landscapes. And Kerith’s traveled extensively as well. Kerith: Yeah, I spent time in Northern Kenya. Just the piece we’re working on, the central part of it is going to be a tree, so also, Krystal and I met in NY and we take a lot of inspiration from wherever we go.

M: How did you become an artist and are there specific life events that have impacted your work and/or contributed to your evolution as an artist?

Kerith: I guess for me I had doodled some in high school, but I never really pursued it till after Krystal and I had met. And we started going to a life drawing class from there. So I guess it kind of reignited a flame that I didn’t know was in there.

Krystal: For me, I drew in high school a little and I went to Weaver, this was before they changed the school, I graduated, as soon as they changed it into the Academy and I was so mad about that! There’s not much creative outlets as far as where school is concerned, and don’t you think? So I thought, well you know, I like video games and  so I went with that and ended up going to New York and painting, I studied computer graphics, so I would paint on the computer or draw, big 3D animation. Then I moved to Florida and had this revelation one day, because I had really wrestled with painting and with being an artist, I wrestled with the idea. So I said, OK, if I want to be an artist, if I’m supposed to be an artist, I want to be a show before I’m twenty-five, and I was like twenty-four and a half. So it was, impossible, kind of. The next week there was a call for artists, and I actually got accepted to it, all expenses paid, and painted my first painting and sold it next week.

M: The theme being racial tension in America, and the Art + Dialogue goal of uniting the arts and community in an exchange of ideas, do you have anything to say about connecting with the other featured artists?

Krystal: For me, I like, I have kind of a film background, there’s something amazing about being on the set and then you see all these walks of life coming together for a bigger purpose. And I feel, like this project, we’re bringing our tragedies and our triumphs and our brokenness and our own experiences together to say, OK, this exists, but how can we move beyond this? And so I just value that camaraderie and, you know, we’re going to have different perspectives. You know, our heart and soul, how can society be better by having these discussions. I’m excited about that part.

Kerith: Ditto.

M: Do you have any words on creative confidence (what never fails to inspire you, etc.) and how that comes into play with the works you submitted?

Kerith: Well, I have a wife, and this is what she does. She has been pretty adamant about pulling this out of me. And it’s so funny, too, because at the same time, while we sit brainstorming about the whole planning process, I get lost in it. And, when I get lost in it, it’s like a disconnect for me from the normal job that I have. So, with that said, I’m able to actually just plug into it and just have fun with it and not really care if, not from an offensive viewpoint, but you don’t really care what other people think. It’s like, I’m doing this because I love it. I do this because there is something greater tied to this that I can’t see yet.

We walked into the Native American gallery last week and it’s different as a white male walking into a place where my ancestors have affected their life. A lot of time, the Native Americans have often gotten looked over in the process. It’s just the way media has gone through history. I told my wife that it amazes me: the things, the roots that the tribal people have. They’re resilient in their culture. Looking at my own self, I don’t feel like I have that same cultural richness that they do. White people, we tend to get up and go and go and go. But, we’re also pretty good at disconnecting from where we came from. It’s, this whole process, will be interesting because we’ll be able to look at not just a present history in the making, but I’m also going to be forced to look at a history already taking place.

Krystal: I think for me I try to have a ritual and I go to the studio more frequently, so a big thing for me, generally, is to pray and clear my mind, you know and spend time with God. If I don’t, then I feel like I waste time. I have an injury from an accident that really makes it challenging to focus for long periods of time. So, to clear my mind, is a big battle, to get to that place. It seems like it was easier before, to get to that place, that’s one thing, you know mental health, is broken. It’s so easy for me to lose focus and lose track of what I’m doing. You know, I’m trying to do ten things at once, and that’s not helpful for the focus part of it. For me, at the core of the tension, there is a sign of injustice or suffering. Or a sign of having to move towards something or the overcoming the idea of it. And, like, taking cues from my own experience of suffering, and not just as a black woman, you know, I’m not going to say “as a black woman I’ve suffered,” I’ve been pretty blessed in the family that I’ve grown up. But just the idea of suffering and the idea of overcoming it and perseverance kind of runs, that thread runs through my work. And I’m so inspired by those who, like Kerith says, have that resilience. Looking for that resilience and looking for that beauty, despite of the harsh realities of what we live in, is what fuels me forward. And I know we don’t have time for a quick story, but like, the idea, well part of the idea, this also inspires me, there’s this daughter and father, this little girl and her father running, somewhere in the middle East, I can’t remember where this is set, and they’re running from death fire and in the midst of running from gunfire in this tense situation, this little girl stops in her tracks because there was a flower in her way. You know, it was either, run over this flower and keep running for my life, or stop. And in that second of stopping, she was shot. Ever since I heard that story, I was captivated by, you know, how can we live in a crappy world sometimes. How can beautiful things or creativity, we’ll just say that in general, creativity be healing for the soul or force us to stop and breathe, or pause, in the midst of racial tension. So that, in my head, really ignites us and fuels my work.

Kerith & Krystal Hart are creating an original sculpture for Art + Dialogue and it will be installed outside on site at Greensboro College on the grounds of the Cowan Humanities Building.

For more information about the Harts and their work, please visit www.krystaljherae.gallery.

Art + Dialogue:  Responding to Racial Tension in America

Sept. 24 – Oct. 11  @  Greensboro College

Art + Dialogue (A + D) is a collaborative project bringing community together using visual art as the catalyst for dialogues around racial tension in America. A + D aspires to make the issue of race and racial tensions more tangible to its audiences and participants and promote greater understanding of different perspectives and experiences.

For a full calendar of events, click HERE.


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