Grenada Soul Adventurer: Christina Cornier PART 1
“Why do we have to listen to our hearts?" the boy asked "Because, wherever your heart is. that is where you will find your treasure" - The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
I met Christina in December of 2015. I was walking past Art and Soul gallery in the Spiceland Mall with Baby N and a friend when I saw Asher Mains and some other artists sitting in the dimly lit gallery, it looked like they were having a meeting. I waved eagerly so as to catch his attention so that he could meet the freshly hatched Baby N. I was let into the gallery and greeted warmly by Susan (the gallery owner and Asher's mom), who introduced me to to Christina. They were meeting over cocoa tea to discuss her upcoming solo exhibit "Gaze". I took Christina's card intiuitively knowing that one day I would interview her, I was feeling her vibe.
As fate would have it Christina and I met again at the going away dinner of mutual friends. At that dinner we planned to have dinner with her and her husband when her father, one of the drummers of eclectic international band: Funkadesi, and her step mom, the ever inspiring Michelle, were in Grenada.
Over sushi we discussed the journey of how she blossomed into the person and artist she knew she was when she came to Grenada. For 11 years, the university educated artist worked as a spa manager in Chicago. That conversation at dinner solidified my first instinct, this woman had a story that I wanted to hear and I think the Grenada Soul Adventurer community would enjoy it too. I know you guys are suckers for a good hero's tale.
Unfortunately an in person interview was not in the cards as I was going to Germany the next day and she was returning to the United States for good during my three week travels. Fortunately we live in the age of instant communication. I approached her online and asked whether she wanted to do the interview through the inter-webs, she agreed and this is what we chatted about.
When did you start making art? My parents say it was when I was really little, like 2. My dad had a job as a graphic designer, so I saw him working at a drafting table and insisted they buy me one too
Did they buy it? Yeah! They set up a tiny yellow plastic art desk next to his for me to draw on.
Oh that is so sweet! Did you end up sitting side by side drawing?
I think so... I'm pretty sure a photo of that exists somewhere.
Do you identify as an artist…like when people ask “what do you do”?
Yes. But it took me a really long time to say that with confidence because I wasn't making money at it. I managed a spa in Chicago for 11 years so I used to tell people that... and then I would pause and say "oh but what I really want to do is paint”. It took a really long time to feel able to have "I'm an artist" be the first thing I say. Like even when I have to fill out on paperwork what my occupation is I have to remind myself that it's ok to write that.
Do you remember when you started actually owning the title "Artist"? Was it in Grenada?
It was definitely in Grenada. Grenada gave me confidence and I had the space to create my art there without the distraction of the full time job that had tied me down. Also, being represented by Susan Mains' gallery and having people buy my work gave it a value that I knew it had, but, apparently was seeking from others as well.
What do you create? What is your Art?
I feel I make art as a feminist statement. I'm really interested in representing women in ways that challenge how they are traditionally depicted in art and in the media.
Just like in your last exhibit “Gaze” at Susan Mains’ Gallery
Exactly. When I look back at my paintings, even as far back as high school, women and representation have always been my main themes.
Have you had an obvious feminist influence from friends, family or teachers or did it happen organically?
My mom is a feminist and was definitely a strong influence on me. I also have a huge network of "aunts" who are not blood relatives but friends of my parents who helped raise me... all smart, creative women. My mom worked at the Art Institute of Chicago when I was really little and taught me about feminist arts like Judy Chicago and the Guerilla Girls who I thought were so cool, ”feminist artists".
That is amazing, I want my daughter to have that sort of strong feminine (whatever that means to the relevant individual) tribe of women that she can look up to. I think it is important to consciously build confidence in young girls.
Absolutely. I hope for that too if I have a daughter one day
What inspires you?
I'm inspired by people, seeing different people's unique beauty. I also get really inspired watching different styles of dance. Several of my friends are dancers so I grew up going to lots of different styles of dance shows. I always get amazing ideas for paintings after watching people dance.
That is interesting, inspiration from different creative disciplines, but I totally get it.
Totally! That's why I thought the art program Asher did recently was so interesting... there were all different sorts of artist working together and critiquing and inspiring one another.I believe it was a Master of Fine Arts program that is open to artists of all disciplines. I remember him talking about a dj and a tight-rope-walker were also in his program.
Are you working now that you are back in the states?
Yeah, I'm actually back at the spa that I used to manage!
BUT just until the end of April
You said that you did that for 11 years and identified as the manager of a spa, is art still primary in you life like how it was in Grenada?
Art is definitely primary. The way I felt in Grenada was the way I had always wanted to feel. Like I was finally able to be the person I was meant to be. I used to be angry all the time and resentful of the job for taking up all my time. A year into living in Grenada David (my husband) even mentioned that he noticed I was never angry anymore.
There is this Gandhi quote, let me google it… “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony”
Ah! That's so good! I love it
Watch out for Part 2 of this interview!
In the meantime find Christina on instagram or check out her website www.christinacornier.com. Shoot her an e-mail if you want to commission a piece or are interested in buying any of her existing pieces.