My personal and school portfolio can be found on Saatchi Online: http://www.saatchionline.com/christinahaupt

some samples of my digital work can be found through the following link: https://christinahaupt.wordpress.com/2013/07/02/digital-media-portfolio/

Artist’s Statement – The Power of Tension

Christina Haupt

I began my current exploration of tension, by focusing on the artistic process – as related to the painting and sculptures I have created for my Junior Independent Study project in Studio Art. As a double major in Studio Art and Philosophy, I have been battling with ways of investigating the process of producing art, and understanding how my own philosophical inclinations are related to my personal work. After creating different pieces and simply experimenting with the creative space I allowed myself, I became aware of the function of my own artistic process, realizing that the key driving force of creation is tension.

The Idea of Suspension and Tension

In my work tension doesn’t have to be understood in a negative sense, instead tension should be understood as: a balance of opposing forces or elements [Merriam Webster] This balance is what I call a ‘suspension’, which can be encountered in daily life and surrounds us at all times. We are inherently suspended beings in time, as we string together all the successive moments of our experience. But objects are not the only things that exist in this suspension, ideas are also found here. In fact, in the creative process – when ideas are still suspended – it is tension that pulls on one or another, eventually allowing a specific one to come into existence momentarily and for the artist to actualize what they envision.

In aesthetic philosophy one may liken this thought to the notion of a muse or genius. These two terms are essential to understanding the quality of the interaction between suspension and tension. However, the muse and genius are not synonymous with one another. The muse is a force that exists beyond the artist, whereas the genius is a potential quality within the artist. More distinctly the genius is the artists capability to actively pursue an abstract representation of and idea and in some way artistically represent this. The outward force of the muse is more like a push or inspiration stemming from some other source.

So where is this all leading? Well, we are all constantly suspended between moments in time and through this suspension we can actively the tension this generates. I believe this quality of tension to be what aesthetic philosophers have called the muse. It is an inner strive which pushes us to create and move forward. However, it is the artist that recognizes where they are suspended and how the tension follows from this. They are then able to in some represent this tension in an artistic manner. This active thought and recognition by the artist is what some might refer to as the genius, however it is really nothing other than a pure form of receptivity and observation. Once we recognize this I think we can better understand the artistic process. It becomes more difficult to then actively represent this realization through art, but this is what I have attempted to do with my current work.

My Body of Work

My work therefore became very focused on spur of the moment decisions and active actions on my part. I began working with clay and canvas using different media to create figurative representations of people.

The two canvases are treated in a loose way using spray-paint to generate abstract shapes and lines of color in the background. I wanted to bring in inspiration from street art into the conversation to contrast the more formal aspects of my figurative work and portraits. I was hoping this could add to the tension I wanted to evoke in the piece. Initially I was using a airbrush to do this, however I the movement I was getting from the airbrush felt limited and constrained. By using my entire body to spray-paint I was able to represent the movement I was trying to display more effectively. In the foreground I then began to place figures from past trips and experiences using photographs I had taken. Though I initially wanted to veer away from using photographic reference, I felt that in order to represent what I was trying to say it was not essential for me to come up with the figures from my own imagination. I then decided to represent more than just one subject. With this I wanted to show the tension that can be found, not only within the very nature of a single moment in time, but also in the tension between the subjects contained by the moment. The conversation begins to shift with the added figure. The viewer is now not the only other counterpoint to the conversation the work is trying to express. Instead, the viewer can now walk away without feeling like they are somehow ending the conversation. Additionally, I have chosen to literally suspend the work in order to confront the viewer more concretely with the idea of tension as a physical presence that extends beyond the canvas.

In my sculpture work I am more focused on a direct confrontation with the viewer. The sculpture pieces become much more intimate as they stand alone and allow the viewer to become the other counter part to the conversation. Additionally, I wanted to again contrast the highly formal pursuit of a realistic bust with something a little more dynamic to evoke tension within the work.  I took inspiration from the Indian festival of colors – Holi. Using the inspiration from tension of good triumphing over I thought that the combinations of colors and fierce act of throwing were in some ways also reminiscent of the idea of graffiti and tagging. So, again I tried to consciously contrast high/fine art with a more modern approach to the subject, while still maintaining the integrity of the work in reference to the context of the gallery space. In the end I have made a conscious effort to constantly push tension within my work. I have tried to allow this tension to extend beyond the work, so that the viewer can actively recognize the process and understand the successive moments, which it took for the work to be produced.

A Final Note

I ask the viewer to remove himself or herself from this tension, and to loose themselves in the role of the observer. In doing so, one should be reflecting critically on the moments that – when strung together – generate the succession of time. My subjects find themselves in relation to one another and the moment in which they are suspended. This allows the viewer to hopefully recognize their own relationship to the successive moments between which we find ourselves suspended, noting the inherent fragility found in this tension.


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