by REBEKAH HARVEY
For Kristy Kristinek, teaching is only one of the things that occupies her time.
Kristinek, associate professor of fine arts at South Plains College, made the decision early on to stay in Lubbock.
“Leaving Texas or just leaving Lubbock, in general, was not an option for me because I just established my family here, my life was here. This was just where I wanted to be.”
Kristinek, who graduated from Texas Tech in 2015 with a master’s degree in Fine Arts, knew she wanted to teach.
After teaching part time at Texas Tech and Lubbock Christian University, Kristinek applied for a position at South Plains College. After she didn’t get the position, she decided it was time to start a family.
“I took a break from academia for about a year and had our son Luke,” Kristinek said.
Six months later, Kristinek applied for another position at SPC. This time she got the job.
“Sometimes not necessarily rejection, but it’s just not the right fit for that time, when it comes to working in academia and wanting to teach,” said Kristinek. “It’s very different from other jobs.”
SPC has been a place for Kristinek to grow, both artistically and academically. She feels that the program is open and creative, especially to any ideas that she has.
For students, Kristinek wants the college to not only be a stepping stone, but also an end goal for some.
“We want this experience to feel like an end goal for out students,” said Kristinek. “That they get what they need, they get the experience they need, they get the communication and the support from the professors, that they can make those decisions on their own.”
This semester, Kristinek is teaching art appreciation, art history, and a painting and drawing studio for non-majors. In the fall, she also teaches a design course for students to learn about different art materials and how to use them.
According to Kristinek, she draws inspiration from both lectures and studio.
“Teaching lecture is very different when you’re just talking about something versus physically showing a student how to do something,” said Kristinek.“Having that balance has been really interesting for me as an instructor, as well as where it’s almost like two parts of my brain, but they feed each other at the same time.”
Teaching is just one part of Kristinek’s life. Currently, she is an artist in residence with Charles Adams Studio Project in Lubbock.
When Kristinek made the decision to become a professor, her main fear was becoming someone who used to paint. She wanted to be able to continue her passion while also pursuing a career in academia. This studio gives her the chance to leave the classroom and continue painting.
“I’ve been very lucky and very blessed to be able to have both at the same time and not feel crippled artistically or academically,” Kristinek said. “I’m kind of at a good level at both right now, and it’s kind of nice to be able to balance the two, and spending equal time with the two has been really good.”
When Kristinek first applied to be an artist in residence, she was rejected. A few days later, she got the call saying a studio had opened up. Three days before the First Friday Art Trail in August, Kristinek had to move in and prepare to show her work.
“For people to be able to experience my studio space and experience my process has been really exciting for me,” said Kristinek.
With creativity comes vulnerability. For Kristinek, the most vulnerable times come with acceptance and rejection. The trick is not taking anything personally, which is hard when your art is a part of you.
“I think the biggest step you have to make is understanding that people are making commentary about your work, not you as a person,” Kristinek said. “When you get really connected with what you do, there is a personal level of what you’re creating, because it’s you and it’s out there, and this object that you’ve obsessed over for however long and put thought into and emotion into.”
Kristinek’s artistic process is just as much a reflection of herself as her art is. Most notable about her process is where she chooses to paint.
“I really like, for myself, to work on the floor,” explains Kristinek. “So a lot of my work, whether paper or canvas, happens on the floor.”
Kristinek, who is classically trained in ballet, has always loved dance. In art, she draws comparisons from the dancer’s body and the painter’s body.
“I’m really interested in studying the dualities between the dancer’s body and the painter’s body, and how I can apply the two together,” Kristinek said.
Another important part for Kristinek’s artistic process is collaboration. Previous collaborations for Kristinek have included Flatlands Dance Theatre in Lubbock. She often draws and paints on the floor while dancers are moving around her.
Involving dancers in her art was a choice made in her second year of graduate school. Her goal is to show the audience what the floor would look like after a group of dancers has danced there.
Kristinek’s choice in colors and mediums is also reflective of her dance background. Her main mediums are paint and chalk. She says that she uses the chalk because it reminds her of a dancer’s makeup and the way dancers almost change into another character. Kristinek also uses black in her artwork, something that symbolizes the dancer being on stage, not being able to see the audience when lights are shining down.
“You have the separation of the lighted surface versus the dark, blackness of the audience,” Kristinek explained. “And as a dancer, you can’t see the audience most of the time. The lights are so bright that they’re almost blinding in a sense. It’s like you’re functioning in your own space and you forget that the audience is there and that you’re being watched.”
Most importantly for Kristinek is the connection her artwork creates with people. She recalled a past First Friday Art Trail when a little girl asked to paint with her. After grabbing a pink, the little girl associated it with the shoes a ballerina wears.
“I said, ‘I used to be a ballerina, that’s why I like this color,” recalls Kristinek, “and she said, ‘that’s why you’re drawing on the floor. That’s what dancers do; they dance on the floor. Being able to have that connection with a 7-year-old was really enlightening for me and empowering for me that I’m able to connect with all kinds of different groups of people.”
Outside of teaching and her studio, Kristinek’s favorite thing to do is spend time with her husband and son Luke, who is almost 2. She said her husband has always been her number-one fan, always supporting her goals. Many times, she takes her son to her studio. As she paints, he plays and says, “Mommy, paint!”
Kristinek says she is often asked how she balances being a teacher, artist, wife, and mother.
“Honestly, I feel like an equal balance is what helps me accomplish all of that,” said Kristinek. “None of those things seem more important than the other, and I have extreme amounts of support to be able to understand that my career is just as important as everything else.”
Ultimately, Kristinek says that she hopes to always be involved in academia, teaching all studio classes and helping artists reach their goals.
Kristinek recently was accepted into “Studio Visit,” a magazine comprised of the works of different artists. She is also performing another collaboration with two dancers in her studio from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. on March 1 for the First Friday Art Trail in Lubbock.
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