From graduating with a degree in biology from Princeton University to receiving a Master of Fine Arts from the U, Kristina Hines’ path has never been predictable. One thing has remained the same throughout her life: a fascination with the human body and a search to understand what makes us work. Hines’ art, currently on display in Provost Mitzi Montoya’s office in the John R. Park building, evokes images of animals and people, the grittiness of soil, and the patterns of a curtain—things you might find in any room. Aptly named, “Rooms,” is a series of four fluid canvas pieces that are a study of materials, figures and environments. She shared some insights into her creative process and the unusual journey that has taken her this far.
How did you decide to switch from a career in biology to fine arts?
I was studying molecular biology at Princeton and I always intended to go into some kind of health care or biological research capacity. I worked as a biological research coordinator for a decade and at the end of that, I realized I needed to get a graduate degree in the health sciences or do something else for the rest of my career. That’s when I decided to pursue art seriously. I felt like it was a different way of approaching an intellectual exploration of humanity, from an art and social sciences perspective, instead of a scientific perspective. It felt right and exciting, like a new frontier for me.
You incorporate animals into your paintings—do you have any pets?
I have a Shiba Inu dog and a cat, who was a stray in the neighborhood that I took in. I just adore them. They are so much fun. I think they are joyful and have this wonderful way of communicating without words. I really love that about our companion animals—there is this whole other language of learning between us. To try to understand myself, I felt like a connection with these animals was something I wanted to explore. We live our lives together in these built environments, in these rooms and with these technologies people have made. I wanted to put those all together in some pictures and explore those relationships.
What do you want people to experience when they view your art?
I would love for the physicality of the work to maybe open up an experience for them. The fact that the canvas is so present and wrinkled and tattered, the sand and soil, the physical mark making, the pieces of fabric and all of the different textures, I would love for that to be part of their experience, to bring them to a place of thinking about the things in their life. That said, I’m thrilled if they have any experience. The viewer is never wrong in whatever experience they have.
What is next for you?
In the fall I will teach non-major drawing, a class I love teaching. I love meeting with students and learning more about what place drawing or visual arts has in their lives, and whether they are interested in it. I feel like I find different answers to that question in every class, and I find it really fascinating. I plan to mix teaching with my own studio practice, and now that I’m graduated I’m looking forward to being more of a part of the Salt Lake art community.