In her multi-piece series, Bloom, artist Kristi Kohut has turned the lens of consumer culture inward, drawing on her background in advertising to explore the ways we internalize visual, verbal, and material goods and messages. Each work blurs the line between painting, collage, and bas-relief sculpture.
Ranging in scale from approximately 2 to 6 feet, Kohut’s original works are made using a labor-intensive process that includes culling visual content over time to imbue her work with an authentic, autobiographical essence. The artist then selects and transforms the snippets of clothing tags, magazine advertising, photographs, found paper, and pieces of Kohut’s own ink and pastel artwork. Every carefully culled piece is backed in acrylic, coated with cut glass glitter, and shaped into an individual flower.
Kohut then arranges the inorganic blossoms in highly textured and layered compositions informed by color and shape. The three-dimensional collages are encased in custom lucite shadow boxes, which highlight the jewel-like nature of their contents. The boxes also serve as an alluring barrier between the viewer and the viewed, the memory of the past and the experience of the present.
In “Beauty Inside” (40 x 60 inches), an icy white palette is evenly interspersed with shocks of bright pink and cool blue, while “Gucci Ganda Lucite” takes on a darker tone, working from an abrasive asphalt grey in the upper right corner to lush warm tones of yellow and pink at its opposite edge. “Belong to Everybody. Belong to Nobody” breaks out of Kohut’s encased rectangular format with a free-ranging shape cut through with a river-like ribbon sash. The work incorporates larger swaths of the artist’s original abstract ink drawings, with found images playing more of an accent role.
The works in the Bloom series exist between micro and macro, inviting the viewer to step back and absorb the glittering aesthetic delights of Kohut’s collage, and pulling them in to discover the organic, highly varied raw materials. Each flower stands alone, inviting interpretation in its own right, while also playing off the color and language cues of its neighboring blossoms. Discover a hidden world of your own in the new show of Kristi Kohut’s Bloom series, available exclusively on Artsy.