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Meet Christina Mastrangelo

Today we’d like to introduce you to Christina Mastrangelo.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I’ve always been fascinated by figurative painting. My passion first ignited during a visit to the Norman Rockwell Museum when I was a child and was further cultivated amidst travels to Paris and Rome. While pursuing my degree in Studio Art from James Madison University, I studied abroad in Florence, taking classes in Humanism, Italian, and Art History at the British Institute, and I was hooked. Immediately following graduation, I returned to Florence to attend the Angel Academy of Art, one of few ateliers at the time teaching traditional methods. After three years of intense training I graduated in 2009 and returned to the U.S. where I began pursuing my painting career. I’ve been painting and drawing daily ever since.

Living in Florence seriously molded my artistic vision. The city pulses with art history, beauty, and realistic depictions of the human form, and the Academy built off that foundation. There I learned the traditional processes of working from life, studied and mastered materials, explored art history from the artist’s perspective, and pursued realistic painting and drawing of subjects that ranged from portraits and figures to still life’s. The Academy whittled down its students to the most dedicated through vigorous training, 12-hour days studying the model and plaster casts to learn the skills of depicting light on form. This training is rare and continues to influence my art practice. I strive to push my work, have patience with the process, and bring it to its fullest potential.

I use traditional methods of layering oil paint and meticulous handling of charcoal to depict what I see. My work takes time, something that I don’t take for granted- the more time I spend working to bring something to life the more presence it has. I sit with my subjects and get to know them, see them in the round, and try to impress their beauty on canvas. It’s an honor to study like this and being surrounded by art all the time makes for a very enriched life.

I am the youngest member of the historic Guild of Boston Artists, a 102-year old gallery on Newbury Street that displays work by living traditional artists. I also teach a complete still-life painting workshop at the Academy of Realist Art in Boston in August, and other workshops across the northeast during the summer. The art of realism is not lost, nor are the classical techniques of drawing from life without photographs, and I strive to share this knowledge with others in the classroom and through my work as I continue to pursue my craft.

Please tell us about your art.
I try to simply and honestly illuminate the beauty I see in nature. My goal is to call attention to sublimity worthy of pause and reflection.

As a Classical Realist, my work’s aim is to represent nature in a realistic style, observing a preference for order, harmony, completeness, and ultimately, beauty. I often choose to not have the material dominate the vision, using the utmost care to create soft, barely visible brushstrokes on the smoothest of linen, and taking time to slowly render my subjects, whether in oil paint or charcoal. I also don’t concentrate on the details of my subjects, consciously simplifying while staying true to what I see. In this way I hope for the viewer to connect with the subject first and the materials second, and for the viewer to notice that it’s not the details that make the subject beautiful, rather the subject’s beauty as a whole.

I search for truth in studying the human figure, and over the past few years I have begun to connect the visual truths of anatomy, likeness, color, and form to the underlying themes we all deal with; our daily surroundings, spirituality, nature, connection, our reason for being, and the narrative between life and death. Aside from my environment and experiences, my visual inspiration comes from the simple compositions of the Renaissance, the movement of the Baroque period, and the accuracy of the 19th century European naturalists.

My latest works, including the large triptych “Know Not Thy Pending Fate”, are visual contemplations on isolation, judgment, hope, sympathy, and connection. I make these paintings to clarify my experiences and present universal themes in a relatable, beautiful way.

Given everything that is going on in the world today, do you think the role of artists has changed? How do local, national or international events and issues affect your art?
This is an important question. I think the role of the artist hasn’t changed as much as the climate around us has changed. We are more aware of what we do not know, what is wrong with the world, and we will continue to figure out how to share this with our audience while staying true to ourselves. As artists we are influenced by our individual experiences, our environments, and what we are exposed to (now more than ever on social media), and this all comes out in our work. Some of us do this blatantly, others subtly. My work has always been more quiet and subtle, I suppose, because it is representative of my character.

Recently my work has morphed from narrative still life’s and single portraits (often with a focus on observing natural beauty) to more diverse multiple-figure themed pieces and emotive portraits. I am heavily influenced by national events and have been taking the news I hear and filtering it down to a universally relatable theme. Much of this is clarified in the carefully chosen titles and way the figure or figures are arranged on the page. My current series deals with figures moving between darkness and light and is my response to the inequities and disharmony I see all around me.

The viewer doesn’t realize it, but each piece that I make is created while listening to audiobooks. Each painting is influenced by the hours upon hours of thinking about the subjects of the stories. “Know Not Thy Pending Fate” was composed while listening to Dante’s “Divine Comedy”, amongst others, and my latest drawing “Navigating” was composed while listening to Ta Nehisi-Coates’ “Between the World and Me”, James Baldwin’s “The Fire Next Time”, and Jodi Picault’s “Small Great Things.” Being open to hearing other’s stories is allowing me to broaden my perspective and connect with others, and I hope that when people look at my work they will see there is more to it than just a beautifully rendered face.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
My work is on display year-round at the Guild of Boston Artists, 162 Newbury Street, Boston, as well as Williams Fine Art Dealers, 300 Main Street, Wenham, MA. Also, like every working artist, I have a studio full of available artwork, most of which can be seen on my website www.christinamastrangelo.com. For first looks at new work, look to my Instagram account @christina_mastrangelo_artwork.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Christina Mastrangelo

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