Interview: Christina Bertsos
Luca Curci talks with Christina Bertsos during CONSCIOUSNESS and VISIONS, second and third appointments of the ANIMA MUNDI 2022, at Palazzo Albrizzi-Capello.
Christina Bertsos is a self-taught sculptor who uses stone to convey her devotion to Beauty and the transformative power of Art. Through her contemplative inner dialogue with regard to the natural world, the feminine, and existence, her sculptures act as messengers to the modern world via this ancient medium. She began her connection and education in stone carving in 2011 at the Dunedin Fine Art Center in Dunedin, Florida, and continues to study and work alongside the sculptors at the Sculpture Studio in Clearwater, Florida. In 2019 she was awarded an Emerging Artist grant from Creative Pinellas in Largo, Florida, and was able to realize her dream of carving with Carrara marble on a monumental scale for her work, The Graces. Her January 2019 solo exhibition, Coaxing Beauty at WADA in St. Petersburg, Florida attracted local press like Creative Loafing and Tampa Bay Magazine to highlight her body of work in a variety of stones such as marble, alabaster, limestone, and soapstone.
Christina has nurtured a lifelong study of figure drawing and painting, along with an early career as a fashion designer which provided the foundation for her one-of-a-kind works done with the loving attention to detail. In her recurrent theme of the abstract female form, she brings attention to the archetypes that reference the feminine and their interplay throughout the natural world. Her influences are notable sculptors, Barbara Hepworth and Isamu Noguchi as well as painter Georgia O’ Keeffe. She has received numerous awards in juried exhibitions yet the ability to move and inspire the individual brings her the greatest satisfaction.
Luca Curci – What is your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
Christina Bertsos – I realized my passion for art at a very young age and nurtured it over time through the exploration and study of many different mediums, primarily drawing, painting and dance. This led me to an early career in fashion design which fostered the study and love for design, exquisite materials, and the sculptural esthetic. For the last decade, I have devoted my artistic training and focus on sculpture using the medium of stone. I am self-taught yet have been fortunate to work with and learn from several esteemed and talented mentors in the field. I began exhibiting my work in 2017. My greatest influence was having a mother and father that encouraged me to pursue my dreams of being an artist. Growing up in the city of Chicago with the grand Art Institute of Chicago close by, in the span of an afternoon I could easily wander through centuries of most exquisite art in the world! The doors opened to the ancient galleries and closed at the contemporary.
I never tired of being there. This love continued as I visited the ancient ruins and classical sculptures of Greece and Italy. Surrounded by the masterworks of the ages, my love for art was born. The stones must have begun to speak to me back then. This, combined with an enthusiasm for modern abstract art and fashion design led me to pick up the hammer and chisel and create my first piece in 2011. Since then, my love for the medium has only deepened and the skill, of course, can take a lifetime to master. My devotion to it keeps me wanting to learn more and more.
LC – Which subject are you working on?
CB – For several years now, I have been exploring concepts with regard to the nature of consciousness, its source, and the evolution of humanity through my subjective experience. And how I can translate this into a form that speaks to others through the beauty of the natural stone. My works like Gaia, Oneness, Beyond Illusion, and Daughter of the Earth reflect that intention. The collection that I am currently working on is taking me back to my historical roots of Ancient Greece with the first work named “Aphrodite Rising”. The archetypal goddess lives on as a reverence for the feminine, beauty, and sensual nature that I connect with as a woman. But she also embodies the energy of strength and of acknowledging that strength within. Identity and connecting with one’s roots are so important right now and as I am on that journey perhaps; I can inspire others to realize with their own beauty and the highest version of themselves.
LC – Where do you find your inspiration?
CB – I find my inspiration literally all around me and within me. I am led by my curiosity about life. It could be something that I see or think about in a split second or something that I’ve been thinking about for a while. Drawing upon the entire experience of my life as it meets with the present moment and how I am being affected by the circumstances of the world, all get woven into the sculpture. The constant change and evolution of mankind juxtaposed against the timeless, infinite nature of the universe feeds my contemplation and creativity. I always begin with the stone itself. The shape, color, and veining all give me clues to a direction of how to begin and how to proceed to each next stage. As it is a subtractive process, decisions are being made moment to moment so that I do not remove something that I may use later. It’s all there in the stone and I am just uncovering it. I am also acutely aware of the brilliant beauty of the natural world from the tiniest insect to the vast open sky, and continually exploring my relationship with that. Form, as well as the idea of formlessness, intrigues me as I look to the invisible forces and emotions that drive mankind like love and desire. There is an exuberance for life that I want my work to reflect so in that, I focus on joy and possibility. I enjoy the surprises that come up along the way.
LC – How is being an artist nowadays?
CB – I find it very exciting! Art is a frontier that invites new perceptions and dialogue with established ideas. It can be considered revolutionary. There are no boundaries to how one can express themselves today. Never before in history have we realized how intertwined we are with everyone on the planet. Art offers a means of universal communication by which we can bridge cultural gaps and join in our mutual commonality. Social media has also made it easier to reach a global audience.
LC – Do you use art to express something in particular? Is that your medium of expression?
CB – Yes, I use my art to express my relationship with life and with the world. Who am I to the world and what is the part I play in it? What qualities do I want to embody and reflect in my work? These are some of the questions I ask myself. My art then becomes a kind of mediation on life, subjectively reaching for answers that give it meaning and purpose. When I’m in my studio creating it’s also a time to come in touch with my personal freedom and expansion. I let the work “become” and allow what happens to happen. It’s a very yin experience yet intensely focused. I have come to know creativity as a power of its own and just try not to get in its way. It is this space where I feel completely in tune with something greater than myself.
The simplest way I can describe what I’m trying to express in my work is just the “Joy of Being”. And if I can help people come in touch with that feeling through my work, that is really gratifying and wonderful! Yes, it is my preferred medium of expression that seems to flow naturally. My art feels more like what I am rather than what I do. For me, it’s a medium of the heart. I infuse love into each piece that I create. In this way, I am honoring the stones as well as my capacity to do this type of very physical work. It’s my gift to others and my way of connecting heart to heart, soul to soul.
LC – We were attracted by your last artistic production, has the artwork presented been created for the exhibition or as part of preexisting work?
CB – Thank you very much! The work is preexisting yet when ITSLIQUID Group presented the opportunity to enter this particular exhibit, I felt that my intention of the piece completely resonated with the theme of ANIMA MUNDI 2022. The human body, both physical and energetic can be compared to the Earth. Her rivers, like our veins, her mountains like our curves, we both vibrate with the same power of Life. I see no separation. And when this body is finished, she goes back to the Earth to feed new life and become the Earth. The energy of consciousness is always there as an absolute and can never be destroyed. It’s such a powerful theme! My stones representing the bones of the Earth and its raw beauty will hopefully help people connect with themselves and the planet on a deeper level.
LC – Would you suggest a collaboration with us? What do you think about our services?
CB – Absolutely! It has been a dream to have my work in this magical city of Venice and in such a beautiful palazzo! The gallery space is very open and inviting with lots of natural light, perfect for stone. Luca Curci and his entire team gathered an impressive group of talented international artists and I am very happy to be in their company. I am also very impressed with the media and press materials related to the show. Everything is very well done with great care to present each artist and their work in the best light.