Memory plays an important part in identity formation. Yet every time we recall a memory, it changes and so too does the role that memory plays in the negotiation of our own existence. This negotiation is further exasperated as trauma challenges our memories and self identity.
Artists Kristina Libby and Ben Blaustein both focus on memory and identity within their artistic practices. For Kristina, a brain injury left her with the difficult task of negotiating the difference between lived memories and imagined memories. For Ben, his reckoning of his Jewish lineage within a more secular lifestyle has led him into a negotiation of past and present.
The contemporay landscape and contemporary reflection pieces are presented interplaying between each other so as to illustrate the dynamic ways in which our memories and our attempt to understand our world are both personal journeys and connected experiences.
Ben Blaustein (b.1998, Boston MA) is a multidisciplinary artist based in New York City. His practice centers around the all-encompassing cultural and spiritual phenomenon that is growing up within the Jewish-American community. Identifying as part of what Stephen J. Whitfield describes as the post-Jewish generation, Blaustein’s work focuses on balancing his personal experience as a Jewish-American adolescent with the larger cultural memory and inscribed traditions of the broader Jewish community. Through both imagery and materiality, his work considers the recontextualization of traditional Jewish motifs and customs in order to more accurately represent his own concept of Divinity. To him, whether they are central or in the periphery, these motifs will forever be present in his life. Images of the natural world populate his compositions, working simultaneously with depictions of sublimity and immanence and as stand-ins for traditional ideas of god. Illustrations pulled from ornamented Judaica serve as representatives of his community and the world around him. Blaustein’s subtle subversions of materials expands on the duality between his secular ideas and the larger orthodox community he is part of. Brass grommets stand in for gold loops and store bought blue dye is used in place of tekhelet. Elements of craft in his work serve not only as alternatives to the finely woven tapestry’s once made by Judaic artisans, but also as references to his family's multi-generational interest in pattern and decoration.
Ben Blaustein is currently pursuing a BFA from the Cooper Union. He presented a solo exhibition at the 2021Spring/Break Art Show. This past summer, Blaustein participated in Arts on Site’s Residency and Retreat program, and completed the Jewish Museum’s Virtual Summer Institute, where he developed an 8-week creative project presented at a virtual symposium. Most recently, Blaustein presented an evening length performance with collaborator and dancer Shira Kagan-Shafman at Arts On Site. His work has also been featured in HyperAllergic Magazine.
Kristina Libby (b. 1984, Damariscotta Maine) is an artist based in New York City. Her work is an ongoing investigation into the profound experience of being human. Through sculpture, design, public art and fine art, she utilizes surprise, whimsy and disconnections to cultivate a sense of curiosity and playfulness.
Through an expanding universe of known and imagined experiences, the work draws on science, history, anthropology, biology and technology to create speculative futures and alternative memories.
Her work has been discussed and reviewed in the New York Times, Washington Post, NY Post, NY Magazine, NBC, ABC, FOX amongst many others. Notably, her public art series "The Floral Heart Project" was cited as the catalyst for the introduction of COVID-19 memorial legislation in both the US Congress and with the US Congress of Mayors.
Her pieces have been featured at the Arizona Historical Society Museum, One Community Museum, and the Milwaukee Art Museum.
She holds a B.A. from Dalhousie University and a M.A. from the University of Denver. She currently resides in NYC where she is also a writer and technology executive.
Libby has been selected for:
Remembering 9/11, Art Students League (2021)
Mudhouse Residency, Greece (2021)
Spreadlight Gallery, NYC
Create Because We Care Exhibit
Reine Gallery x World Women Foundation
Named a Hero of 2020