Interview with Resident Artist,
Tarina Frank

Posted May 22, 2013 in Blog

Tarina Frank in her studio at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft. Photo by Ron Scubadiver.

Tarina Frank in her studio at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft. Photo by Ron Scubadiver.

Briefly describe what you make.  What projects have you been working on recently?

I make wearable art objects from a variety of materials.  During my residency, I have been experimenting with the idea of wearable art.  My work ranges from the simple, tiny, more traditional idea of jewelry all the way to costumes and masks. My most recent works have been large, lightweight necklaces made from paper.

Has the HCCC residency helped you to develop a body of work and discover yourself as an artist? If so, please describe how.  If not, please tell us how the residency has influenced your work.

The HCCC residency has allowed me to continue making work without fear or restraint.  It has allowed me to set aside time in the day to sit around my art and other people’s art.  I have had little pressure to make work for any other reasons, except my own, which is wonderful.

You work with a variety of media, including found objects, metal, paper and you also paint. Do you prioritize one over another? How do you decide what to work with when you want to create?

No material is more important that another.  Whether it is gold and diamonds or paper and wood, I treat them all equally.  For me, I respond to the materials, and I make based on the idea and without strict rules.  It depends on what the idea demands. Sometimes, I am drawn to the texture, movement, or weight of a material, and I respond to that attraction.

Tarina Frank, “Large paper necklace series.” Paper, cardboard, found objects, paint. 2013. Photo by Randall Mosman

Tarina Frank, “Large paper necklace series.” Paper, cardboard, found objects, paint. 2013. Photo by Randall Mosman.

Tarina Frank, “Diamond Necklace.” Laminated paper. 2012. Photo by Randall Mosman.

Tarina Frank, “Diamond Necklace.” Laminated paper. 2012. Photo by Randall Mosman.

What are your plans after you have completed this residency?

I plan on moving to Stockholm, Sweden, to attend Konstfack University to receive my MFA in jewelry.  This is a two-year program but I will probably stay in Europe, even after I am finished.  I also have plans to visit Istanbul and Cairo within the year for some shows.

You have a background in painting and metalsmithing. Can you elaborate on how painting influences your other work?

For me, painting can be a much more powerful medium.  A large bold painting can seduce someone from across the room.  Therefore, my jewelry has at times tried to compete with that idea. I have made necklaces that are shown framed on the wall, in order to break the on-the-body or in-a-jewelry-box tradition jewelry holds.  These necklaces ended up being composed very two-dimensionally, and then I used them as a source of inspiration for paintings. For me, there is no dividing line between jewelry and paint, it’s all art.  I also made a series of work using dried-up paint from my paint pallet!  I love wearing chunks of paint!

Tarina Frank, “Diamond Necklace 2.” Paper, wood, brass. 2012. Photo by Tarina Frank.

Tarina Frank, “Diamond Necklace 2.” Paper, wood, brass. 2012. Photo by Tarina Frank.

When did you start working with metal, and what inspired you to start making kinetic jewelry?

I starting making jewelry at a very young age, but I didn’t start using metal until I was 15.  I began with wire and then PMC or Precious Metal Clay.  In college, I learned more traditional jewelry techniques, and my favorite thing to do was to make jewelry move.  I love to spin my rings on my finger or fiddle with my necklace when I’m bored.  I kept thinking about how to make jewelry more of a toy instead of just decorative.  This allows us to interact with the piece further.

Jaydan Moore, “Platter #4.” Found Platters. 2012. Photo by Jim Escalante.

Tarina Frank, “Paper Fan Rings.” Paper, brass, copper, silver. 2011. Photo by Tarina Frank.

Who is your biggest influence artistically?

I am not sure if I can pinpoint one person in particular.  There are several artists’ work I admire, including Hanna Hedman, Gijs Bakker, and Rob Ebendorf.

You had an interesting childhood filled with many adventures. Can you tell us a little about that and how those experiences have shaped your creative endeavors?

I come from two very different cultures; my mom is from Argentina, and my father is from Sweden.  My parents were both explorers, so we lived on a small sailboat during my youth.  My father was a deep-sea diver and underwater welder, which might have inspired me to use metal in my work.  While we sailed or visited foreign places, I was always drawing and making things out of whatever I could find.  Without a television or a consistent group of friends, I often made art while we sailed.

Since you are from the Houston area, what do you enjoy most about the Houston arts community?

The Houston arts community is a really tight-knit, supportive group. I have made a lot of friends here, and I will be really disappointed to leave.  There is something for everyone here, from the Craft Center to Glassell to the MFAH and the Menil.  All of these organizations provide top-quality art outlets for anyone interested in making or enjoying art.

  • Susan Fletcher King

    great interview! Yay Tarina!!!!

  • Ron Scubadiver

    She looks good.