Kristen Bartel is originally from the Southwest and currently lives and works in Southeast Wisconsin. As an artist invested in contemporary print-media with a strong background in traditional printmaking, her practice remains firmly rooted in multiplicity and duplication. She combines traditional print techniques with drawing, photography and digital media. Bartel is currently the Racine Art Museum Fellow and Assistant Professor of Printmaking and Digital Imaging at University of Wisconsin-Parkside.
The conceptual direction of my work stems from my desire to understand the American Dream and its constructs of success, comfort, beauty and ownership in relation to landscapes and climates. My work inquires to how the incongruent aspects embedded in the American Dream manifest within my culture, my personal histories and my understanding of traditional landscape. The use of print media has particular conceptual resonance, as many of the constructs I perceive swelled through modernization and mechanical reproduction; histories and processes intrinsic to both the printed image and contemporary culture.
Most recently I have been exploring the impact of consumer culture on natural resources within the context of the Western landscape. I am compelled by the large and small implications of the American Dream and the cost of this dream to the landscape and its natural resources. My current work analyzes certain constructs and signifiers of beauty and success that are demonstratively aestheticized and require a great amount of natural resources to attain. I am looking at water specifically as it is one of the most basic resources. I use images such as private lawns and domestic watering tools couched against snow pack, storms and radar imagery to create relationships in a pursuit to better understand the magnitude these constructs of success have on our landscapes. More info: kristenbartel.com