MUNTHE ART MONDAY: KRISTINA RISKA
Photos by: Jefunne Gimpell
Please introduce yourself and tell us about what you do.
I am a Finnish artist working mainly with clay. I was born in 1960 in Helsinki and there I still live and work. I have attended several exhibitions during these years and have had many private exhibitions in Finland and abroad. Last private exhibition was this December - January in New York HB 381 gallery. I have three children and three grandchildren.
Can you name other female artists that inspiree you and explain why they do so?
During these forty years of working, I have clearly seen the difference between male and female artists. One major reason is the responsibility of domestic issues - children, cleaning, and cooking, taking care of old parents etc. Of course, there are a lot of women too who does not have a family and they can concentrate on their careers.
We women in Scandinavia have an especially good situation thanks to the communal day care system. We can have both a career and a family unlike many women in other parts of the world. However, to be an artist is not a normal 8 hours a day work, but an endless process which is sometimes difficult to combine with the family life.
To be a woman or to be a man, having a family or not, there is anyway a difference in the attitude of being an artist. Of course, it is very dangerous to generalize but I have a feeling that men are more willing to compete about opportunities than women. Also, they may have a better self-confidence than we women. It is not the men to blame, it is the history repeating itself. Still, I am hopeful that a change is on its way.
Men and women will be more equal in the future. This I see in my son’s generation. These are young men brought up by educated awaked women. Many female artists back in the history lived alone. They had no children and if they shared their life with a male artist they stayed in the background and let the spouse shine. Of course, there were strong individuals too.
Can you name some other female (artist) that inspires you and explain why they do so?
Artemisia Gentileschi was a painter in Italy during the baroque period. She was violated by a male colleague, went through an insulting public trial, was a single mother with a heavy economic burden and all this time was making brilliant paintings. Louise Bourgeois is one of my favorites. There was nothing sweet in her artworks, but they are bold and hideous. She had no need to please anyone.
What has been the most challenging aspect of being a female artist?
Combining motherhood and the need to work has been a challenge for me. There were times when I constantly had the feeling I was in the wrong place. When I was at the atelier I should have been at home, when at home I wanted to be at the atelier. And the guilt every time being away from the children was overflowing. This was a burden at least for me. As a young artist you work hours and hours without any guarantee of any income - food to the family. Egoistic, whispered a voice inside me... When the children grew older being away became easier. Being able to work made me a better mother. Working makes me complete as a woman and as a human being. It is a solid rock under my feet.
What would you like people to notice in your artwork?
In my works I seek another kind of beauty - a combination of ugliness and fairness. I seek balance, a dialogue between light and body. With my works I wish to relate the sempiternal chain of expressions and interpretations of existing upon a time. The scale of my works is big, and I enjoy the physical challenge while making them. The size comes very naturally, and the process eliminates all that is irrelevant.