Change—affecting it personally, and socially—is very important to me. Often, I look to ancient sources as my guide for this, in part because they hearken from a time more comfortable with notions of Transformation. I've used wood gleaned from olive groves in Bethlehem to create staffs; I've compounded anointing oil based on the exact components (cassia, myrrh, cinnamon) as laid down in the book of Exodus, and offered it up in hand-blown glass dispensers to exhibition visitors—allowing them to anoint themselves as they see fit. I've made reliquaries of bronze (a material thought to have powerful "memorializing" qualities), and copper (for its "conduit"-like properties between the spirit and material worlds). Modern inventions like the sewing machine, and familiar office-tools like rolling casters, make their way into my sculptures as well. But at their root, these are forms that embody the sort of ineffable sense of 'shift' and internal re-orientation that I seek.
The tactile is a Formal response to the notion of the personal; materials are latent with message. Hence, I've spent a lot of time researching just what it is they might be trying to tell us; I've learned about early Jewish practices previously kept secret, of mysticism and magic—to the point where my studio practice can almost seem to border on the anthropological. That's an admixture with which I feel comfortable. In many ways I'm a visual archeologist, unearthing fragments of the past, digging up metaphor and parable that I then site into a personal narrative. The only way I can advocate change for Others is to begin with my own practice, put my own self and beliefs on the line. Viewers often respond with intense catharsis to these works, and I welcome that. Through the gentle power of shared emotion, darkness is exposed, and healing is brought to light.
Beth Krensky is an associate professor of art education and the Area Head of Art Teaching at the University of Utah. She is an artist, activist and educator. She received her formal art training from the Boston Museum School and MIT’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies. She has exhibited widely throughout the United States and internationally. Her work is intended to provoke reflection about what is happening in our world as well as to create a vision of what is possible.
She is also a scholar in the area of youth-created art and social change. She received a master’s degree with a focus on critical pedagogy and art education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She spent a decade with the award-winning youth arts organization, Project YES (Youth Envisioning Social change), as the Co-Founder and Artistic Director. She has coordinated numerous community-based art initiatives, including creating a Peace Park with young people in Colorado and the book A Piece of Peace with youth from Massachusetts. Her co-authored book, Engaging Classrooms and Communities through Art: A Guide to Designing and Implementing Community-Based Art Education, was published in 2009 by AltaMira Press/Rowman & Littlefield.
Beth is a founding member of the Artnauts and joined the collective in 1996.