Claudia Cortínez and Martyna Szczesna: Material Experiments in Image-making

Work by Claudia Kaatziza Cortínez
Untitled (1862) from the series La Distancia Entre Cosas (2016) by Cortínez. Silver gelatin print on matte paper mounted on dibond, 16" x 20".
Work by Martyna Szczesna
Detail of Szczesna's God Bless 2 (2016). Steel, canvas, paint and glass beads.

Claudia Cortínez's work comes out of a fascination of how we collect and translate histories and the infinite lives that objects have before and after they reach our hands. Her recent work includes large scale photograms where the resulting image is as much a register of her body and location as it is of the objects being depicted. Cortínez was born in the U.S. to Argentine and Chilean parents and currently lives and works in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She studied painting and photography at RISD and at Kyoto Seika University in Kyoto, Japan. She received her M.F.A. from Yale University in painting/printmaking in 2013.

At Yale, Cortínez was granted an Alice Kimball Travel Grant (2012) to photograph specific locations in Argentina and Chile described in her father's writing. She was awarded the Blair Dickinson Memorial Prize and the Blair Dickinson scholarship from Yale (2013), and the Rema Hort Mann Foundation Emerging Artist Grant in New York City (2013). She has participated in residencies in Buenos Aires, Argentina (La Ira de Dios), New York City (Lower Manhattan Cultural Council LMCC Swing Space), Japan (Kyoto Seika University Artist Residency), and Rosario, Argentina (El Levante). Cortínez recently curated an exhibition in New York City that brings together artists from Buenos Aires and New York who have a non-traditional approach to photography. Portrait of a Landscape plays with reformatting the photograph as an object, as well as linking the work between two of the most important cities, artistically and culturally speaking, in the Americas.

Martyna Szczesna's work examines utopian constructs using both the formal and intangible qualities of photography and site. Images are broken apart and built into sculptural constructs that seek to encapsulate memory, entropy, and awe. In this way, she assembles a fractured topography that speaks to notions of place and cultural identity, or lack thereof, addressing their effects on the psyche. Recent work, such as Namaste, Motherfucker, investigates mythologies ingrained in the American landscape through the lens of California public lands and self-expression. Array, a work in progress, uses the reticulated shadows of the urban canopy illuminated by L.E.D. streetlights as the "negative" for a series of unique and visceral color photograms.

Born in Olsztyn, Poland in 1984, Szczesna emigrated to the U.S. with her family in 1992. She is a graduate of The Cooper Union (2007) and holds an M.F.A. in photography from the University of California–Los Angeles (2016). At UCLA she co-organized the 2015 Southern California M.F.A. biennial exhibition Fragment which aimed to demonstrate how some young artists contend with the presence of photography in their work. Fragment drew from diverse practices, including sculpture, painting, video, and film. Szczesna is a recipient of the Resnick and Charles Speroni Memorial Scholarships (2015) as well as a Tuition Assistance Grant from the Kosciuszko Foundation (2015). A recent alumna of the 2016 Watermill International Summer Program, Szczesna has also been a resident at Kala Arts Institute in Berkeley, California (2014), the AIM program at the Bronx Museum (2014), Cabin Time Mobile Residency (2013), and Elsewhere (2012). She has exhibited across the U.S. and abroad.