What’s there to know about Kaleena Stasiak? I am from Toronto, Canada and am currently pursuing an MFA in Printmaking and Book Arts at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia. I like to travel and collect souvenir thimbles and spoons. Gold and double denim are important to me. My favorite sport is dependent on which Toronto team is winning. I love Drake but not more than I love Beyonce. Right now I’m reading critical theory and the Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante.
Why did you choose printmaking as a medium? In a world where technology advances faster than people can keep up with it, I believe it’s important to keep alive time-honored and long-established processes. Printmaking itself was once a major progress of industry and a democratic medium of mass communication. Its migration from religious, craft, and commercial uses to artistic ones makes it an ideal visual language for my work. This history also allows it a unique ability that I exploit to ironically reflect and illustrate the issues of today. I am drawn to the ritual and repetition of printmaking and the liturgy of its actions that become ceremonial and sacred. I am fascinated by the dichotomy between the intimacy with materials and the distance that is created by the use of technology. In combination with printmaking I also utilize an assortment of tactile media such as ceramics, textiles, and wood furniture to create immersive installations.
What is your work about (thematically)? My subject matter is grounded in craft and “women’s work” of the 19th and 20th centuries. I have an ongoing preoccupation with handmade household necessities such as quilts and doormats and their ability to reflexively represent the bodies that made them. My past work calls into question the taboo nature of death in our society and the human need to create and attach meaning to inanimate articles in order to make sense of the world around them. Currently I am exploring methods of history consumption as a way to address the relationship between the past, identity, and craft.
Can you tell us about your process? How do you work? My artistic practice engages in material and textual investigations both inside and outside of the studio. I approach research and art making through the lenses of artist, amateur historian, scientist, and cultural anthropologist. I find inspiration by poring over books in the library, going to museums and attending cultural phenomenon such as historical re-enactments. My materials are culled from craft stores, thrift shops, and antique markets. I explore themes and ideas by sifting them through the sieve of different mediums and processes.
What other artists are inspirations to you? My great-grandmother’s handmade quilts are constantly a source of inspiration. A professor from my undergrad, Sarindar Dhaliwal, still shines as the type of artist that I would like to become. I am influenced by the Feminist Artists of the 1970’s, their use of high and low materials, and the body as a sight of political activism. I love the way Sophie Calle thinks. Annette Messager, Kiki Smith, Louise Bourgeois, and Eva Hesse all serve as powerful examples in their manipulation of materials. I recently had the opportunity to assist Michi Meko, an artist from Atlanta whose work I adore, and I was invigorated by his methods and approaches to art making. For a more detailed account of artists whose work I find inspiring check out my tumblr.
More information about Kaleena Stasiaks work can you find here or through her Instagram: @girlwiththebangs