Gallery 224

Studio Artists | Featured Artist | Studio Gallery | Workshops | Programs



February, 2016

Featured Artist

Carissa Heinrichs

My work explores the re-contextualization of place and the human interaction with the spaces one inhabits, while the individual and environment constantly reformulate one another. I am drawn to the dynamics between containment of place and the traversal through space, the duality of stable dwelling and transitory movement. This examination continues to merge with how our ever-changing relation with time and space at times intertwine and, at others, divide into extrapolated fractions.

I graduated in 2014 from Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts with a BFA degree in Intermedia Art. I have spent the past year working as a fashion product photography at E-Collectique Runway Boutique, co-coordinating the Wisconsin Humanities Council grant for the new darkroom, and am currently the assistant project director to the Analog Photography: Looking Back and Looking Ahead photography program series. 

During my residency, I plan to organize and coordinate public events for the Analog Photography programs, including lectures, workshops, book discussions, film screenings, and more. I intend to continue work in alternative photographic processes on a variety of substrates and create interactive installation structures that incorporate multimedia photography and printmaking, converging a multiplicity of varying times and places.

Visit Carissa's website at
Carissa will be in the studio from June 2015 – May 2016.


A Conversation with Carissa Heinrichs

by Don Niederfrank

Carissa and I met in the Residents' Studio in the Boerner Mercantile Building below the Daily Baking Company. We didn't follow my usual practice of meeting upstairs for coffee simply because it was wonderfully crowded (Hooray for DBC!).

We began with a tour of the residents' interesting show “Family Matters,” and then sat down at her workplace for our conversation.

In your statement you wrote “Re-contextualization of place and the human interaction with the spaces one inhabits.” What does “re-contextualization of place” mean?
The best way of summing it up is to say a lot of our spaces are places we have constructed either physically or in our perceptions of them, especially in containments. So for instance you have a statement, “I am here” which could mean “I'm in this room...I'm in this building...I'm in this town” and it just keeps going and going until a lot of places we consider separate are in the same space and all here if we consider it within a different containment.

So describe where you live?
You mean right now?

Well, right now I'm living with my parents and grandmother. They live in Cedarburg. And after I finished undergrad, drove back, and moved in, all of these opportunities cropped up right here. I got a job right off the bat and then this residency came up, which is just perfect because I can be here as much as possible, while saving up for grad school.

So do you have your own room?
I'm barely in it. I have one back wall that I painted dark blue so it's easier to fall asleep, like a dark sky. I have books and movies and stuff. And art from travels. I have a rug in the middle of the floor that I got while backpacking in Morocco.

Why were you backpacking in Morocco?
I did study abroad for a semester in Barcelona and went to Morocco on spring break with a group of other people in the program. And then traveled around Europe backpacking by train for a little over a month.

Did you grow up in Cedarburg?
For the most part. I was born in Oklahoma, then lived in Wauwatosa for a short while, and then Cedarburg.  

What's been your favorite place to live?
I don't know...I don't think I've found the place I want to live. I spent quite a lot of time staying with my friend's family in northern Arizona in the Navajo nation. I always enjoyed spending time in her home because I felt so welcomed and at peace, especially coming from Phoenix with very little relief from the crowds and pavement and heat.  Going home with her was also how I was able to find a connection with the landscape there, especially to the mountains and the quickly shifting environment as we would drive between the north and south parts of the state.  Within such a short range you can watch the scenery transform from cacti to pines.  But other than that there have been various places I've visited and loved. Barcelona, Porto, Paris, Edinburgh, Prague and Budapest... Places with fascinating, and often outrageous, stories usually stick the most.  I stayed in Granada for a short time and really loved it there. Amazing architecture. I've enjoyed a lot of places.

Have you ever thought about a degree in architecture?
I thought about it briefly, but I really don't have the perseverance for the mathematics. I studied architecture in Barcelona and really loved that because, like art, it's a lot of history and reflects the context of the time. With architecture you can read a lot as to what was happening in people's minds at the time by what kind of structures they were building for themselves. I'm really interested in the history.

I'm wondering if what you'd like to end up doing is teaching art history?
I would be interested in teaching but it would most likely be in the art practice, rather than history, although I'd be interested in studying more history in general as well.

What's your favorite medium?
I go between photography and printmaking. But I think a lot of the photography processes I lean toward merge into printmaking, especially with the aesthetic and approach and amount of time that I spend with the process. I'd like to do more installation work.

A lot of the residents seem to be into printmaking. Is printmaking newly popular?
It's been around forever, but there has been a rise in interest now. A lot of people are going back to printmaking. I think a lot of people like reproducing multiples of their work or creating their work as multiples, while maintaining involvement of the hand in the process.

Did you do art as a child? What I mean is, did you do more art than most children?
Yes, but I also had a lot of friends who did art. I was definitely more interested in art when I came up to school in Wisconsin (age 7). Wisconsin had many great arts engagement programs for kids in my experience, with a clay mural installation and “self-published” bookshelf at the Wauwatosa elementary school, and then a gifted art program that took Cedarburg elementary students to the Milwaukee Art Museum for tours, discussions, and activities. At a younger age, I was interested in visual information in books and illustrations. I was much more drawn to making up stories to go along with the illustrations than reading what was written.

When did you first think of yourself as an artist?
Probably during high school. And it does have a lot to do with space. If you're one of the people who ends up taking over the school’s art studio and spending all your time there...

You had a good art teacher?
Yes, I did.

What's been a surprise or a disappointment since you've gotten your degree? What you expected or didn't expect?
I didn't expect to still be in Wisconsin, but I'm happy I stayed for the time being. It was the right decision to make. I was pleasantly surprised how quickly I got a job in my field. It’s not what I expected after graduation, but I think that gave me a better appreciation for the opportunity. It also gave me time to prepare the grant for the new darkroom. I really enjoy doing what I'm doing with my residency, with coordinating studio events, and I'd love to do more of that in the future with a university or a museum. I like preparing opportunities for people to discover or figure out what they are interested in.  It’s also enjoyable to see the variety of interpretations.

How many hours a week do you spend on your art?
A lot. I’m usually in the studios anywhere between 20 and 40 hours a week, although my time has been split up between organizing and planning for events, applying to grad programs, and my personal artwork. Many of my processes take a lot of time, preparing and cleaning. It changes the overall process to product durations quite a bit. Much of my time has depended on when I’ve had sunlight. Now that it's winter I'm going to get more into working with the press and exposures in the darkroom.

What's the most tedious and what's the most joyful part of the art you do?
Sometimes the tedious is also the most joyful. It's when it pays off. When you're putting together the layers, and they finally merge to make the whole.  It can come out in unexpected ways, sometimes for the better, or it can be the intended result of meticulous manipulating. Either way (for gum bichromate) when it has its three components working together that's when it's joyful.

(What then followed was Carissa patiently explaining to the interviewer the process of “gum bichromate.”

So out of a hundred prints how many prints do you end up with?
It’s difficult to anticipate, since each tricolor gum bichromate print takes three prints to get the final result.  Any single print has the possibility of either not showing up enough, which can be reprinted, or being too saturated (or containing some other fault) that ruins the rest of the print layers.  So, a hundred full prints contain three hundred prints and I would say (for my current approach) I could get around twenty, what I would consider successful, full prints. Sometimes I see photographs that I thought would work and I underestimated how the darks would affect the process. It also has to have enough distinction between the colors. It has to have an almost graphic element to be legible.

Who has influenced you and are there influences that continue?
I've been influenced a lot by my family. Both of my parents are in music (along with extended family members) so I've had that influence of art in my life continuously. I've had a lot of different influences, a lot of other artists and educators who have been incredibly generous in their insight. As a teenager, I used to go to Gina Litherland’s studio and she would give me instruction on oil painting. I’ve learned a great deal from her, both technically and creatively as a whole. We kept in touch over the years and it’s been a real joy since coming back to the area to spend more time with both Gina and Hal. It was through Gina and Hal I was introduced to everything Jane has created in Port Washington and its wealth of opportunity.  And through them, I've had the great fortune of meeting Martin (Morante) and Vicki (Reed), all such exceptional artists and individuals. And through all these relations, it's cultivated a very active little artists' community.

Are there museums that you like or are there books you treasure?
I like to look at art, but I like to walk into a place and be surprised by what's there. I love the Milwaukee Art Museum. I’ve visited many museums while traveling, one being the Louvre. There were a few things I wanted to see but for the most part it was the magic of walking into a room and being surprised by familiar greats I’d only seen in small print.

What's the hardest part of doing art?
I don't know. Sometimes you hit a wall, but it's more so a matter of being critical yet allowing your work to take its own form. There’s a balance between being a creator and being an observer. Because there's a lot that goes into making a piece but you're not the only one.

Do you like doing the work?

What do people who don't do art not know about doing art?
I think what people don’t know about doing art is that it is work, it's a labor. What people don't seem to understand about art, generally speaking, is that they think the art world is “over there”. But nearly everything someone encounters in a given day has been designed in some manner. Many of our surroundings have been created.  Whether you consciously perceive it as art or not, it has been artistically derived at some level of its creation. We live in a visual art world and an increasingly visual society.

How would you define success as an artist for you?
I think success as an artist is as long as you are creating and being innovative in your own form, whatever that means for you. It's more about the process and the development being the artist rather than the artist being the product. You're not looking to be a finalized result. It should be a constant evolution and process of creating art. As long as you're in the process, you’re a successful artist.

Thank you. Thank you for your time.
Thank you.


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