Chrissa Star is an interdisciplinary artist based in Seattle and is best known for her large figurative drawings and colorful abstract paintings. Her works often depict and celebrate diverse women with an alluring hint of mystery: hidden secrets, stories, and traumas. Her figurative works merge symbolism and abstract expressionism, with Star citing Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele as major influences. In her paintings, you can expect to find hammered nails, broken glass, and glitter, as well as techniques including blowtorching and chemical testing on batches of homemade encaustic wax.
A fixture in the Seattle art scene for over two decades, Star continues to work, donate, curate and volunteer for art events and galleries including the Seattle Art Fair, Center of Contemporary (CoCA), Bemis, Artist Trust, Bellevue Art Museum, Chrissa’s Wine Bar, Consolidated Works, MoPOP, Gallery 218, Vital 5 Productions, Pratt Fine Arts Center, and Bumbershoot.
Chrissa earned her Fine Art Bachelor’s Degree from UW-Milwaukee and was the Ruth Milofsky Scholarship recipient. Her work has been exhibited in over forty curated solo and group exhibits, and she is currently in a 3-year artist-in-residency with Slightly Subversive.
As an abstract artist, I crave new things to go into my brain and I need new challenges, which is why learning to work with encaustic was perfect. It is a medium that is difficult to predict and has a lot of moving parts. Encaustic is a medium made of pigments mixed with melted beeswax and tree resin, and each layer needs to be fused to the previous layer, using heat.
I like pushing boundaries of the mediums and surfaces I work with, because the results that comes from addition and subtraction can be unexpected and keeps me in a constant state of reaction and engagement. In my encaustic work, I do this by taping over an area that I like and continuing to layer more wax. I mix dry pigment with shellac and after applying this to the painting, I burn the shellac into cell-like patterns using a blowtorch. After I do several more layers of wax and shellac, I remove the tape to reveal the pod-like image.
I’m inspired by all things new to me. It can be a trip to the art store or hardware store where I find items and materials I haven’t used yet, taking walks and finding mushrooms or new pod plants, a good documentary can be inspirational to me, and viewing work by fellow artists, as well. Nostalgia can also be an inspiration for me, like listening to alternative music from my past or stirred memories brought on by a certain smell or dream.
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