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Meet Karolina Maszkiewicz

Today we’d like to introduce you to Karolina Maszkiewicz.

Karolina, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I’m Polish-American. I’m originally from Poland and for more than half my life, I’ve been living in LA. I’m an artist and a lot of my work is directly linked to Los Angeles and it’s environmental issues. My latest project Woolsey, named after the 2018 Woolsey Fire, is a series of sculptures that incorporate charred wood gathered from the Malibu fire-ravaged area. It is a very LA project, but also personal, the art studio I apprenticed at burned down in that fire and I had close friends who came to stay with us during the evacuation. Some of them lost their homes. That experience really stayed with me.

Woolsey burned almost 97,000 acres of land in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties. The fire started in Woolsey Canyon and was propelled in large part by the Santa Ana winds, engulfing and destroying historic movie and TV sets, ranches and homes, and causing the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of residents. Once the fire was out and the smoke had abated, I explored the burned areas, gathered pieces of charred wood, and began incorporating them into an ongoing series of kinetic sculptures. The small-scale sculptures pair form with material to investigate balance points, gravity, and the way a viewer’s presence influences the movement of the works.

On the one year anniversary of the Woolsey Fire, when our beautiful city was in flames once again, I exhibited the work at Ochi Gallery in LA. The work was paired with John Zappas gestural drawings, illuminating a shared visual language that is rooted in a material cataloging of time and place.

Has it been a smooth road?
Through this work, I’d like to shine some light on the issue of extreme fires, and the ramifications of climate change. Ideally, I’d like the work to speak for itself but I also see the necessity of explaining the meaning behind certain projects. I’m naturally very private and I find it very challenging to try and become the face and voice of my own work. That said, I think that overcoming this discomfort would be the most rewarding experience I could have in the near future.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
Most of my work is kinetic. I’m particularly attracted to this form because one of the driving forces behind my work is to try and create a sense of movement within compositions. For me, this can help transfix the viewer creating a space for contemplation and reflection. I use a variety of materials that link what is man-made and what grows organically in the natural environment, such as stone and dry plant pods. I want to allow these materials to mimic our presence in nature through their composition and movement. The intended purpose of my work is to create a metaphysical connection. I love the way the physical presence of the person literally changes the immediate future of this seemingly lifeless object through touch and movement. The sculpture in return can have a pacifying, meditative effect on the viewer. Not only can a person affect the object, but the changed dynamic of the object also determines the person’s future state of mind.

In my next project, I intend to incorporate site-specific natural stones seamlessly blended with man-made discarded plastic material in a monumental scale. Meant to live exposed to the elements, these pieces will highlight the changing composition and potential deterioration of our environment.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I love LA. I love how laid back and creative it can be, there are 101 different cities within this city, if you find your spot it can be really fantastic. It’s not all sunshine all the time of course. LA is such an odd combination of isolation and congestion. The traffic is intense and the amount of fumes it produces is concerning. I used to have a much loved 70’s convertible that got swapped for a more eco-friendly electric car. I just couldn’t enjoy the ride knowing how much I was contributing to the problem. I feel the responsibility to do my part through my work and everyday life.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Images courtesy of Ochi Projects

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