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Kristin DeGeorge: Transmissions by María Vela Zanetti

Things get so close to each other that they end up catching fire. This ignition born of proximity is what we live for.

--Elías Canetti

I was searching my weary head for a spark to ignite a process of engaged affection and complicity, without which I could not write about Kristin DeGeorge--an artist who exhibits, in truth, her heart and her words, her entire life. I found this quote from a seasoned writer that instantly brought everything into focus. I met Kristin over two years ago when she translated one of my extremely long poems from Spanish into English. I was amazed and grateful for her radiant ability, almost supernatural, to embody my own voice, to delve into mysteries that I had not even glimpsed; it took on meaning, and I knew at that moment I had found an ally.

I later discovered that she dealt in other languages and she gestured to me to enter her world. Before I took pen to paper, I visited the printmaking workshop. There she was, covered in ink, exuberant, nearly in extasy as she showed me the first etching, a "warrior". It was trapped in a rectangular space by various subsequent interventions, with windows of light cut into the paper. It seemed to be emitting signals from within, broadcasting to the four winds. The unsettledness of that first element, a small proud mark, almost a divine mandate or a stigmata, remains constant and becomes empowered in other works, refusing to disappear. Quite the contrary, it beckons us to follow and investigate what lies ahead.

But we did not go ahead, we digressed, back to Kristin's childhood; to a farm in Pennsylvania; the candescence of autumn leaves; the crisp cold; the coiffed waves of her Sicilian great-aunt, Concetta DeGeorge, whose strong and generous hands Kristin inherited. The hands of an artist that never stop in their desire to improve (but not organize) the world.

Trained at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers and student of the renowned Emma Amos, Kristin learned to not lose her way in the proud dictates of art trends that operate at the behest of the market. She always returns to her roots, the social activism taught to her by her parents. Thus the transversality, the channelling of the collective drive, the radiation and resonance of the earth that enthral her as much as her studio work. All this concern for others, for the earth and the imprint we leave on it make their mark in her etchings and collages; in the ink, latex and copper wire she combines with parchment; the sea-coloured glass in her hanging mobile sculptures--veritable jewels for a post-nuclear fallout.

She needn't go out of her way to find her materials, for they are part of her tactile, visual and thermal memory: the tumultuous colours of the sky pregnant with storm; leaves, each one of a hew on the brink of evanescence; the metamorphosis of one animal into another like a dry snake skin abandoned on the path; the copper fittings of a farm tool that shimmer like keys and test her artisans ingenuity.

Here she shows us a very small but intense, expressive sample of her febrile activity. It's a shame you can't go with Kristin to her home. The walls are covered with paintings and watercolours, it smells of turps, and colour reigns throughout. It is a happy place surrounded by enigmas. Kristin sees and absorbs it all and smiles; she is already focused on the next metamorphosis, an aid plan...

I leave her with a certain feeling of nostalgia, but also with a pulsating joy. I return to Canetti, who whispers in my ear: You must have somebody happy at home in order to be happy somewhere else.

Thank you Kristin.

María Vela Zanetti

Kiwi popsicle

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