Kristin Texeira refers to her work as “memory maps.” She creates abstract paintings that recreate or represent, in a sense, moments and moods from her own life or the memories of others. “My abstracts are rooted in something physical from the world, or a story that I’ve gathered from someone else,” Texeira says. “They’re little markers on a map of what a story is about.”
Texeira uses color, form, and placement to tell her stories — extracting the essence of a time, place, or maybe even just a feeling, and turning the elements of art into a narrative.
A selection of her work is now on display at the Pathways Arts space at the Chilmark Tavern. They represent two distinct series — one a sample of work done during a residency on a houseboat in San Francisco, and the other a selection of paintings from a residency in Ireland. The former show a series of simple geometric shapes that would appear random but are accompanied by text that reveals the inspiration behind each little painting. In the second series, the words Morning, Noon, and Night — in a highly stylized form — are actually the elements of the image done in hazy, monochromatic colors.
Of the latter series, Texeira explains in an artist’s statement that the paintings evolved as a reflection on the concept of time. “I spent ‘time’ at the residency confronting these abstract ideas with abstract art. Paintings–turned–science experiments; testing time, space, intuition, and love.”
Abstraction is how Texeira transforms a time or place or a story into a tangible visual image. She uses key elements to distill the essence of a memory. Color is all-important to the artist. She views the world a bit differently from the average person. Synesthesia, a certain cognitive gift with which she is endowed, informs her work. Synesthesia, which is relatively rare, is defined as when stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway. Although synesthesia is present in a variety of forms, in Texeira’s case she visualizes thoughts as very specific colors. These can include music, numbers, concepts like time, even people.
“Color is what I see when I hear music, taste wine, or read the titles of short stories,” writes Texeira in her artist’s statement. “It is how I decipher new places when traveling, and the people I meet along the way. Through color I am trying to remedy nostalgia; my paintings are the vessels that ferry viewers back in time, so they can encounter a moment again and again.”
Using this unique way of seeing things in her mind’s eye, Texeira creates her “memory maps.”
“Most of the work starts off as writing,” she says. “I used to write every morning. That practice would unveil either memories or places I hadn’t thought about for a while.”
It would seem that just about anything can be used as a prompt for a painting. “I’m always writing down quotes or stories from people I meet,” says the artist. “I also collect scraps of things. I hold onto receipts, or labels from beer bottles. Like Proust, I kind of time travel.”
Texeira is currently based in New York State, though she spends a good deal of time on the Vineyard where she has friends and family. She has shown her work at dozens of galleries in NYC, New England, on the West Coast, and internationally. On-Island her work was included in a show at the Workshop Gallery.
She works on a lot of commissions — pieces based on client’s memories of events like a first date or a wedding. In her artist’s statement she writes, “I paint to provide proof — for myself and others — of existing in certain moments in time. I paint to capture, document, and preserve memories. I translate the essence of moments through color by mixing up the poetics of people and places.”
Texeira explains how she works with others. “Usually someone will send me a paragraph of a day or a journey that they took,” she says. She will also talk to the person and then send them some examples before undertaking the painting.
“The painting is an anchor for a memory and a way to seal that memory down permanently,” says the artist. “Mimicking the way we recall a memory — the feeling someone felt. The whole mission of my work is to preserve moments in time.”
Pathways is currently exhibiting the work of Kristin Texeira and Walker Roman at the Chilmark Tavern and online. The show will hang through the month of April. You can see more of Texeira’s work at kristintexeira.com.