Thursday, April 28, 2016

Grenada Soul Adventurer: Christina Cornier PART 2

This is a continuation of my interview with Christina, a 33 year old artist from Chicago who followed her bliss in Grenada and became the woman and artist she always knew she was. Click here for part 1.

What was most frustrating about that time when you were not really making art? Can you articulate it, were there specific thoughts or were you just angry and did not know why?

I knew it was because I was not making enough art. But I got trapped in this cycle of feeling that I couldn't quite because of the financial stability it afforded me. So I knew I could pay the bills but I was miserable. Painting is like therapy for me. I need it. I start feeling really agitated when I have not worked on anything in a while.


I know that feeling. You start to resent yourself for not making it a priority. When we are angry at ourselves we get angry at other people too. 

Ha! Yes!I try to be kind to myself these days though and not beat myself up or let myself get angry if I didn't use my time wisely for making art.


That is a healthy practice

I try, it's hard though!


You can’t get to where you want to be while resisting where you are at…I have another quote! Wait for it!!
I'm excited for it!



When did you come to Grenada?
January 2014


Did you start on your art straight away? Did you know you wanted to dedicate your time to it while you were here…was that the plan?                                                      
That was the plan. For years I had been planning how to leave my job and leap into painting full-time but never had the courage to do it because of the financial security thing I mentioned earlier. I mostly supported David and I when we were first married, and I had so much debt. When David told me he wanted to go to SGU  we planned together that this would be the perfect time for me to take that leap into full-time artist. We blew through all of our savings during the two years we were there, but, it was completely worth it because it changed our lives for the better.

I think it is amazing that you both supported each other like that, in the end you both got what you desired in Grenada, that is a partnership. 
It's true. I went to Grenada for David but discovered myself there and found in it (Grenada) a new home. 

Apart from having the time in Grenada how did you approach your art differently?
I learned to schedule my week in advance. I like the idea of being moved by inspiration and working when the mood hits, but for me that doesn't work. I have to have dedicated time set out to be in my studio/workspace. Once I'm there in the space and have time to create, the inspiration comes and I'm super productive.

Yes! There is this idea out there that artists work when inspiration hits and that it is all very romantic
Maybe that works for some people but not me


It is good to hear that it can be approached in a structured way like other work.
I learned how to work that way watching David study for medical school. He had to be so structured with his time and got so much done. 


Once you start the work do you get into the “zone”?
I can usually always find the zone. Even on days that are not as productive I still feel good just have worked at least a little


How did you and David end up choosing Grenada?
He (David) had a friend that went to SGU and had a really positive experience. I really wanted to live somewhere warm and beautiful where I could be near the ocean and nature so when I did my research on Grenada I fell in love with it. It was the only school he applied to.

Aside from the intention to dedicate most of your time to your art before you came to Grenada, what else about being here inspired you, and, ultimately caused you to flourish as an artist? I am a firm believer that environment has a huge role to play in success.
Like I mentioned earlier being near the sea was a HUGE deal. And green mountains and colorful houses and the sun shining everyday. I felt like crying out of joy everyday when I looked around me. That kind of beauty, that feeling, played a huge role in my art-making.


You have, in part,  credited your evolution into a full time artist to finding like minded people. Can you tell me a bit more about that?
Yeah, I get really inspired by other people. So finding others who live their lives passionately is like fuel for me. I love talking to interesting people. It was tough right when I moved to Grenada because David was in school and I knew NO ONE. I ended up spending a lot of time and energy with people that I met though the school, other SOs (Significant Others), who were miserable in Grenada and that really brought me down. I had to make the decision to break from them and seek out people that would make me feel inspired.

Yes! It is all about the energy you surround yourself with. Who did you find and how did you find them?
I found Jamie and Amber (owners of Conservation Kayak) because I went on a kayak trip and later reached out to them and I met Carly through volunteering at the Queen Elizabeth Orphanage

You also mentioned you met Asher and Susan Mains, when did you meet them?
I went to Asher's art opening in July 2014 and introduced myself to them. I was awe-struck by them.
 

What about Susan and Asher had you awe-struck?
I had done research about what was going on in the art community in Grenada prior to moving there and had discovered both of them. I loved their work and had been following them on Facebook and had it as a goal to meet them. Their work was different but very complimentary. I loved how they both used color and texture in their paintings. I visited Art and Soul several times to see their work and to hopefully meet Susan but it wasn't until Asher's solo show about seven months later that our paths finally crossed.

That is so interesting, you literally planned to meet them in pursuit of your dream to make being an artist the focus in your day to day.
Yeah! Mostly I wanted to learn from them and surround myself around other artists to build a community. I intended on participating in some of the open call group shows that the Arts Council and Art and Soul regularly put together but I had no idea that my relationship with Susan would lead to two solo shows and representation in her gallery. It was beyond what I had imagined.



Your story is giving me life!
I'm so glad! It's funny that now looking back on it, it is really amazing how it all happened. It was a lot of work though. The structure we talked about before in my art making was also due to my feeling that I had to keep producing work in order to prove myself. Sort of like I wanted to be taken seriously and play with the big kids so I worked harder than I ever had before.

How did you feel once you committed to art full time?
I felt like I was finally living the life I was meant to live. I can get up in the morning and work on a painting all day without feeling the same exhaustion after working an 8 hour day at a desk job. I've been the happiest I have ever been since making the switch to full time artist.



What started happening in your life? 
Once I made the switch my stress level went down. I had always thought that I was an anxious person but really I was just unhappy. I would have panic attacks all the time and would feel incredibly emotionally unstable, especially when I was working too much. About a year into living in Grenada I commented to David how I hadn't had a single panic attack since moving there and quickly made the connection to it being since I had made the transition to full time artist.

Did you participate in exhibits before you came to Grenada?
I participated in a number of shows right after finishing college in 2007. I was part of group shows in several galleries around Chicago and even had a solo show at an alternative artist live/work/show space called the Flat Iron in Chicago. After a couple years of doing these shows I realized I was just showing the same work over and over again to the same supportive people so it was time for me to take a break from exhibiting until I made new work. Then I got so busy with my desk job that the new work was never made... until I moved to Grenada.


What did it feel like doing your first solo exhibit in Grenada?
It felt like a dream come true. I had done so much research, prior to moving to Grenada, on what was happening in the art scene with the Arts Council and Susan and Asher and Susan Mains Gallery and I wanted so badly to be part of it. 
To be recognized by Susan and given the opportunity to show in her gallery made me feel like what I was doing had value. I also had such an outpouring of support from the rest of the art community in Grenada, from Daniela and Rene and Chris and Lilo from Art Fabrik. So many people showed up for the opening filled with positive energy and love and support, it was really wonderful. 

Did you feel nervous? If so, why or why not?
Definitely. Exhibiting my paintings can feel like posting pages from my diary on the wall for everyone to see. It makes me feel so vulnerable. But people respond positively to that because they can relate.
I am learning to have more confidence with what I want to say in my work. 
I can also have a hard time talking about my paintings. Having an exhibit I knew I would have to make a speech and be involved in conversations with many people about the subject of my work which can be hard to talk about. When I was younger I used to say "I paint because I don't know how to talk about what I am feeling". But talking about work is really important and when you don't you can isolate people who want to engage. 
I was so nervous about making a speech that for my first opening at Susan Mains Gallery I asked Susan if I could not make a speech. She laughed and said no, this would be good practice for something that was important and I needed to become comfortable doing it. I now try to do a lot of writing about what I am thinking about when I paint and when I know I need to make a speech I practice first with David at home.


Now that you have had these experiences, and you have returned home, what has changed for you? 
I know for sure that I want to keep the momentum going that I created in Grenada of committing 100% to my art. I had contemplated going back into the spa industry so that I would have guaranteed income every month, but I feel like that would potentially be closing the door on this thing that is working and that I love. Currently I have been making money by painting portraits for people and I have been working on illustrations and cover art for several children's books. I would like to continue using my art skills to make a living. 


Any plans for the future with art ?                                                                                         I am keeping up my relationship with Susan and the gallery and I plan on returning to Grenada at least once a year to bring more work and hopefully participate in more shows. I would also really love to hook up with another gallery once I have settled in New York. The ultimate goal is to be self-supporting through my art and to surround myself within a community of like-minded individuals who keep me engaged and participating in the art world.

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 pieces.

1 comment:

  1. Such a great article Grenada Soul Adventurer. You really captured Christina's essence, and shared it with us. Thanks! Susan Mains

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