Kristina Søbstad: I’m a sucker for every sunrise

May 2022

Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a Norwegian-Canadian visual artist currently based between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. I earned a BFA from NSCAD University in Halifax in 2010, and will begin my MFA in May 2022 with Memorial University. Since 2007, I’ve participated in over 200 international group and solo exhibitions. Most recently, I completed a residency and exhibition with the Museum of Modern Art in Chiloé, Chile. In 2015, while exhibiting in Paris, my work was purchased by the Paris Francophilie Art Bank, The Rooms, and Canada Council Art Bank. My work has since been featured on the cover of international, bestselling academic books such as Reaching Through Resistance by Dr Allan Abbass.

What media do you work in and why?
My work is primarily oil and charcoal on canvas, and I prefer to work on a larger scale for various reasons: my practice is very physical, but also my subject matter both literally and emotionally requests a larger scale. I feel it’s important as well [for] the viewer to feel immersed by the work.

You work in landscapes, a subject which doesn’t ‘move’, but your pieces are so kinetic. Where does that energy come from – both in how you sense it, and how you then translate it to your artwork?
Working in landscapes, a subject that doesn’t necessarily move, but referring to my work as kinetic (I love that) – my practice in itself is completely physical, from gathering inspiration in the wild to the physicality of creating. But also, our environment, our spaces, are living, breathing, ephemeral entities in constant change and movement and I strive to capture that motion/movement.

Can you pick one of your works in the Symbiosis, and guide us through it?
Throw your arms around me is a piece in my show with Jared Betts. This describes an image of an undulating landscape during the last bits of daylight. One of those days when you find pockets of the most sweetest smells of the forest, when the sunset doesn’t look like it could possibly be real it’s so mesmerizing. Titling work is a very important part of my practice as well, something that can be influenced by something someone said in passing that I found moving or eloquent, could be a poem or quote or a piece of music, whether it’s a lyric or chord progression. The process from exploring through creating to titling is an all-encompassing experience for me as a visual artist.

What artists, not necessarily visual, most influence you?
My major influences are our natural environments, moody weather, light, rain, when you can smell the rain or the ocean, having a family of deer feeling comfortable to sleep just outside the house, I’m a sucker for any sunrise or sunset, the hum of activity on a salvia flower when it’s covered in bees and butterflies, being in the ocean when it’s quietly snowing is pure magic, again the little bursts of sweet smells and beautiful sounds of the forest. People are also a big one, we imprint on each other in such a powerful way, often without even realizing the extent, and music, music is a very important part of my practice, my ‘sketchbook’ is full of lyrics or words that stayed with me.

What do you think of this quote: “The painting has a life of its own.” ― Jackson Pollack
The idea that from my inspiration to create, executing the work, and then someone, a complete stranger, will experience my work and attach a meaning or a deeply personal experience, finding their own romance in the work – that, I find incredibly moving. Every viewer adds their own experience, and with every experience, more weight, more love becomes attached to the work. I love that. It very much lives a life of its own.

Søbstad is represented in St John’s by Christina Parker Gallery. (Images: This rain changes everything; Throw your arms around me.)

NL Q and A: Elisabeth de Mariaffi

BY Joan Sullivan

I usually come to new stories with either a first line or a first image in mind. With Hysteria, it was an image – almost a moment, really. A young mother, lounging on a wooden raft in a quiet pond with her child, suddenly is witness to a strange and unexplainable event. It’s a hot and lazy day, the woman is half-dozing. She looks up to see a second child, a strange little girl, has appeared out of nowhere.