Christina Chalmers - painting

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Christina Chalmers 1948 - 2017

“Each of my works is a personal epic. Each garment image is a cloak, which shelters a universe luminous, spacious, incalculably rich and truly vulnerable. Finally, for me, there is this question: Does the light descend from the sky or rise out of us?"

Be sure to view Christina's archive page.

Christina Chalmers - painting

ARTIST STATEMENT

“You are the fiery life of divine substance, you blaze above the beauty of the fields, you shine in the waters, you burn in sun, moon and stars.” -- Hildegard Von Bingen

Each of my paintings is a small, personal epic. Each garment image is a cloak, which shelters a universe luminous, spacious, incalculably rich and truly vulnerable. Finally, for me, there is this question: "Does the light descend from the sky or rise out of us?"

In archetypal symbolism, clothing represents persona, a kind of camouflage which lets others know only what we wish them to know about us and nothing more. We are often "clothed" in our own private illusions of ourselves…power, money, success, pleasure, but there is really no substance to this "clothing"; it only cloaks what is deep inside and invisible... the creative, unique and mysterious inner self. This work is about that with which we clothe ourselves and the "human divinity" or true self which lies hidden beneath.

During the winters, I live on a farm in the south of France in a wilderness area of flamingos and wild white horses near the Mediterranean Sea. My studio is in an old barn, and there, I found a trunk filled with carefully folded, very old clothes. They were delicate and all hand-sewn, with lace and embroidery done in painfully small and labored stitching.

I also found an old journal with fragile, transparent pages dated one hundred years ago. On and near the farm, I took photographs of things in nature, things especially fragile and vulnerable. I printed my photographs onto some of the old fabrics and the pages of the journal and made drawings of sacred geometry on others to put into the paintings. These things inspired me and have become a part of my work in recent years.

Everyday, as I opened the trunk, I felt somewhat like an archeologist violating an Egyptian tomb, and as I worked with the fabrics, carefully undoing the tiny stitches, I imagined the lives of the women who had made them. After working, I reverently re-folded each cloth and placed it in the trunk as if each were a raiment, a holy vestment, a shroud, and I felt as if I had somehow participated in both the grief and beauty of someone's life.

ARTIST BIOGRAPHY

CHRISTINA CHALMERS
1948 - 2017

Christina Chalmers is a mixed media artist that works between and often integrates several media including painting, sculpture, video, photography, and installation in her nature inspired pieces. In need of movement and change, Chalmers is based in Santa Fe, NM but also maintains studios in Mendocino, CA and Camargue, France. Each of her homes presents a crucial interaction with distinct materials and landscapes that progress her intuitive creative process. Dominant motifs in Christina’s work are often everyday objects such as dresses, birds, books, and flowers that she coats in greater potency by using found organic objects, vintage lace and textiles, handmade felt, antique manufactured hardware, reused books and diaries, beeswax, lead, copper, and paint. In her multi-dimensional works, themes of passion, interrelation, migration, nature and, human divinity revolve and reappear.

Her experiences as a fine art weaver, a Waldorf and public school educator in California, an arts collective founder and organizer in Santa Barbara, and a set designer in Los Angeles and New York City have all found their place in her contemporary work as well. There is a creative fearlessness as well as theatricality that permeates her sculpture and video work. Chalmers juxtaposes fragile and strong materials to metaphorically present the differences in male and female roles throughout history. 

The layered allusions in her work reflect the eclecticism of her inspiration; she equally draws on the work of artist Joseph Bueys, writer and activist James Agee, director Andrei Tarkovsky, composer Arvo Part, photographer Walker Evans, and naturalist, educator, and anthroposophist Rudolf Steiner. 

Chalmers was born in West Virginia and grew up in Iowa where she earned an MA from the University of Iowa. Her work has been widely exhibited throughout the U.S. and Europe including exhibitions at Deitch Projects and the Alternative Museum of NYC, Orange County Center for the Contemporary Arts of CA and is represented by the Selby Fleetwood Gallery in Santa Fe, NM.

education
1984 MA in Art & Education, Rudolf Steiner College, Sacramento, CA
1969 BA in Art & Literature, University of Iowa

selected exhibitions
2005-2009  Selby Fleetwood Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
2008  Denise Roberge Fallery, Palm Desert, CA
2008  Deitch Projects, New York City, NY
2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2003, 2001  Art & Soul Gallery, Boulder, CO
2007  Box Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2000  Walker Fine Art, Denver, CO
2006, 2005, 2002, 1999, 1998, 1997  HTC Gallery, Minneapolis, MN
2003  Gallerie di Fontesseca, Spoleto, Italy
2003  Mas d’Icard, Provence, France
2002, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996, 1995  Deloney Newkirk Fine Art, Santa Fe, NM 
2001  Façade Gallery, Paris, France
2001  Chiaroscuro Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ, 2001
2001, 2000  RVS Fine Art, Southampton, NY
2001, 1999  Studio Arte Gallerie, Spoleto, Italy
2000, 1999, 1998  Port Jackson Fine Art, Laguna Beach, CA
1999, 1998  Lumina Gallery, Taos, NM
1999  Ramscale Art Assoc., New York City, NY
1998  Trinity Gallery, Atlanta, GA
1998  Bobbi Walker Fine Art, Denver, CO
1997  Gallerie Fonte Seca, Spoleto, Italy
1997, 1996  Suzanne Brown Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ
1996  Orange County CCA, Newport Beach, CA
1996  Sloan Jordan Gallery, Austin, TX
1995  Lifetime Television, NYC, NY
1995  La Sol Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA
1994, 1991  Art Soup Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA
1994  Woman Made Gallery, Chicago, IL
1993  Sculpture, NBC Television, NYC, NY
1992  Ruth Bachofner Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
1991  Alternative Museum, New York City, NY
1990  UC Santa Barbara, CA
1990  Atkinson Gallery, City College, Santa Barbara, CA
1990  Westmont College, Montecito, CA

publications
2009  Art News
2007  American Art Collector
2006  American Art Collector
2000  Focus Santa Fe
1998  Focus Santa Fe
1997  Pasatiempo

collections
La Posada Resort Hotel, Santa Fe, NM
George Michael, London, England
Midwest Wireless Corp, Minneapolis, MN
Hutchinson Telecommunication, Minneapolis, MN

awards & honors
Orange County Center for Contemporary Art, 1st Place Award
Westmont College, 1st Place Award
Santa Monica Museum, Top Ten Artists of So. California
Purdue University, Southwestern Women Artists Award