By Shu-Ju Wang

It’s in the genes, both literally and metaphorically, when you talk about art and science and their roles in Kindra Crick’s life and work.

From her grandfather, a neuroscientist, she inherited the drive for scientific inquiry. From her grandmother, a figurative painter, she inherited her need for artistic expression and visual conceptualization.

And from this genetic blueprint of her life, Kindra has created the two strands of her work–art & science–intertwined like a double helix.

Below, Ties III, Encaustic mixed media and string.

Kindra Crick graduated from Princeton University with a AB in Molecular Biology. Deciding that another 8 years for a PhD in Molecular Biology wasn’t in the works for her, she chose instead to attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she earned a Certificate in Painting before moving to Portland to become a full time artist working in painting and printmaking.

Using art as her medium to explore the world around her while employing the analytical skills and methods of a scientist, Kindra balances her urge to explain, to measure, to search for absolutes, with the more spontaneous and nuanced gestures of experimentation, play and intuitive response.

Starting with building and preparing her substrates where precision and timing are important, to the founding thoughts for that particular piece–perhaps a statement based on scientific experiments or maybe a query into something science has yet to answer–she creates the constraints for her work. From there, she allows herself the luxury of not having to explain, to simply respond to the parameters she has created.

But as she works, more often than not, her intuitive responses cover and sometimes obliterate her original marks and intentions. And that brings us to the philosophical question that interests Kindra–after it has been obliterated, does that original meaning still exist? And how much does one need to call attention to this original intention? How does the viewer go about discovering the seed of an idea? And finally, how does understanding and perception affect what they see?

And how does one go about creating a painting about perception?

In a recent series of work, Kindra investigates how the heart became a symbol for love. How is it that we have come to perceive the anatomical heart as the seat of love? In another on-going series, drawings of eyes are captured in jars–much like biological specimens–expressing identifiable human emotions that challenge the viewers to decode. Our ability or inability to perceive these emotions fascinates Kindra.

Above, Emotion Elixir: Desire I, encaustic mixed media and string.

Kindra discovered encaustic a few years back, but it wasn’t until she built her own studio in her backyard, with great ventilation, that she was able to really delve into the  medium. And she has found home.

The medium allows her to do all the things she loves–to obliterate and to rediscover, to embed drawings and watercolors, to incise, to write. And most importantly, as a mother with a toddler, to allow her to work when she has just snippets of time here and there. The medium is simply infinitely reworkable by introducing heat. The tools and paints can be left to dry, and to spring back to life when heated. Likewise, work in progress  can be worked & re-worked without time constraints.

Below, a corner of Kindra’s studio.

Kindra Crick has been an active member of the Portland Open Studios board for the last three years. And hidden from public view, she has worked with a graphics designer to create the beautiful Portland Open Studios Tour Guides these past three years. Both the participating artists and the art-loving public owe a big “thank you” to this multi-talented artist!

Kindra is artist #58 in the 2010 Portland Open Studios tour. For more information about Portland Open Studios, please see our website at http://www.portlandopenstudios.com.

You can see more of Kindra’s work on her website at http://www.kindracrick.com/. She is also part of the International Women Artists’ Exhibition at Littman Gallery in August:

Her Presence in Colours IX

Littman Gallery, PSU
1825 SW Broadway, Smith Building
August 5 – 27
Reception on August 5, 5-7pm

Please see this page for more information.

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