Moments in Color with Kristin Texeira


Chelsea Sonksen

Grey + Elle

We were visiting Kristin Texeira’s art studio in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and we’d been oohing and ahhing over a collection of tiny paintings she had done to represent her classmates at art school. The paintings reminded me of baseball cards. Each one – and there were probably a hundred – had been painted with carefully chosen colors that represented each of the people Kristin remembered from school. The project was fascinating and shocking in the sheer number of people she remembered and the way she translated her memories into color. But when she pulled out this other project, we abandoned the first completely.

“I painted cards for each of the boys I’ve kissed,” Kristin grinned. Our stylist, Alice, made a witty remark about how thick the stack of cards was as we eagerly fanned them out on the table. The one on top began: “Timmy (last name unknown) Age: 4; Location: Playground, Natick MA; Circumstance: He stopped dancing with Jackie. He danced with me. I licked his cheeks at recess. I told my mom and she yelled at me.”

“The cards documented every kiss from age 4 until nearly the present day. Flipping through the stack, I felt a sense of guilt, which was odd since Kristin was standing right next to us, sharing the juicy stories behind each card. She had invited us to explore this piece of her past, yet, that kind of vulnerability and openness is so uncommon. It felt like we were trespassing.

This project, like all of Kristin’s work, is created with the intention of capturing and collecting time – using color, and often words, to preserve special pieces of the past.

Since she was seventeen, Kristin has carried sketchbooks around with her, cataloging objects from her days. She pastes receipts and wrappers inside and transcribes interesting conversations she overhears. These books help her capture fleeting moments in a tangible way. “If I’m sitting in the park…and really feeling it, I’ll take a blade of grass or a flower petal and write down the day, who I was with, and where I was.” Eventually, Kristin translates many of these memories into paintings.

Kristin began her artistic journey at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. “For a while, I thought I could only make a living doing wedding portraits or representational work because I hadn’t been exposed to abstract work [when I was] growing up. I’d look at John Singer Sargent and Degas and think that I had to perpetually paint portraits. I couldn’t accept that my mind translates stories in an abstract way. I had a teacher, Laurel Sparks, who spent an entire two-hour class exposing us to contemporary abstract artists. Once I saw examples of successful abstract painters, that kind of work started to seep out of me.”

After college, Kristin took a series of seasonal jobs to pay the bills while she continued to paint. When she moved to New York, she worked in a restaurant for about two years. When she finally went full-time with painting, it was quite accidental. “It wasn’t this eureka moment where I was like, ‘I’m done, everybody. I’m a painter now!’ It was that slowly everything else seeped out and I stuck to painting, and I was like, ‘Oh shit, I’m doing it.’”

Not long after she moved to New York, Kristin discovered Uprise Art, an online gallery for emerging artists, which some of you might remember from Issue 03. Kristin admired a lot of Uprise’s artists; she had planned to propose some work to them, but they beat her to it. “I got an email from them a couple Januarys ago, and I was so hyped. I can even remember where I was. There’s like this manifestation – you’re thinking about these things, setting goals, and working hard, and sometimes [your goals] happen faster than you think [they will]. Especially in New York City.”

Since Kristin was adopted by the Uprise Art family, her business has grown dramatically. She has been featured at several prominent art fairs, and she has sold a great deal of work. “Sometimes I feel like I can’t keep up with the production of things [anymore]. I was used to making work and having it sit with me in the studio… Now I make work and immediately push it out to the gallery.”

She admitted that sometimes she thinks about how much work she can make more than why she is making certain work. But even in the midst of this productive, busy phase of her career, Kristin saves time to work on secret projects just for herself, and she has learned to balance her workflow to include slow projects that are more personal and quicker projects that meet the ever-increasing demand for her work.

Kristin Texeira - Kiss Cards