I just love this eclectic collaboration between two artists, Julia Sebastian and Christy Wittmer, who make a point to touch base and bounce ideas about their independent practices off one another, but collaborating all the same. Find more about them both, as well as their collaborative project “Material Gyrations” on Instagram at the links below!
Can you tell me a little bit about you?
Christy Wittmer is from Ohio and currently living in Phoenix, AZ. Julia Sebastian is from Lexington, KY and is currently living in Northern Kentucky. We both received our MFA’s from the University of Cincinnati, which is where we met and started collaborating. Four years later, Christy has been traveling for residencies and teaching along the way. Julia teaches in the Foundations Program at Northern Kentucky University.
We have lived in different places for three years, but have continued to stay in touch with each other and discuss art and ideas that we then translate to our individual studio practices. We realized that since we spend so much time and energy critiquing and sharing ideas, that our individual work has begun to play off of each other through similarity and difference.
We maintain a date every two weeks to FaceTime to discuss ideas and our work. This has helped us persist in our making and thinking, and has allowed us a space for critique and admitted times of uncertainty that are always followed with collaborative problem solving and new ideas. It is much easier to tackle studio challenges with a parter who knows your brain and making process so well. And we laugh a lot.
What ideas are you exploring in your practice?
Our artistic practice is driven largely by material experimentation. We enjoy working with a variety of materials, cement, clay, plaster, wood , paper, paint, and seeing what we can get the materials to do with the end goal of creating drawings, objects and environments that evoke something in the viewer, empathy or delight. Currently we are exploring spirituality and how our interactions with and awareness of the materials of our surroundings, plants, rocks, trees, connect us to the earth and ground us in the present. These connections are how we begin the conversation of ways we can work to mend our relationship with the planet where we live.
What is your process like?
Our practice has always been driven by research- both visual and academic- and then greatly by experimentation. It is a bit of a teeter-totter in the way we generate ideas, try things in the studio, rethink ideas and search for inspiration, and then continue to experiment once we have more information.
Do you have a mentor, or a piece of advice (or both), which has influenced your practice?
We both have both learned not to take ourselves too seriously, which can be difficult when collaborating on exciting material. We uncover a lot of ideas while laughing or joking with each other.
What is your studio like?
Christy’s studio is in a detached garage with a kiln and excellent shelving. Julia’s studio is a large bamboo table from Ikea and a lot of tackle boxes full of materials.
What do you find most daunting, challenging, or frustrating about pursuing art?
Time is a luxury and something that can feel really frustrating. We have discussed the issue of needing more time to flesh out ideas but are forced to cut off experimentation because of a deadline or installation date.
What are three words you would use to describe your work?
funky-form (one word), intricate, lean
What are you working on right now?
Christy is building monuments using clay, cast metal and found objects.