Emerging Artists | Christina Body

Odes to the city

Christina Body, 26th Street, oil, 24 x 36.

Christina Body, 26th Street, oil, 24 x 36.

This story was featured in the October 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art  October 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

When describing her native Chicago, Christina Body uses words that drip with poetry. She compares the streets to canyons, for example, with “long shadows stretching out across the pavement” and skyscrapers “illuminated by the sun.” Perusing the artist’s oeuvre of painterly cityscapes, it’s clear that she channels her lyrical views of the metropolis at her easel. “Chicago is my backyard; it’s my home,” she says. “It’s energizing, always changing, and I love ‘big.’ I’m inspired by large compositional shapes—the elevated trains, the skyscrapers, the massive bridge structures.”

Body’s family hails from the South Side, and she herself grew up in the city. After earning a bachelor’s degree in fine art from Southern Illinois University, she returned to launch her painting career there. Today she lives with her family in a suburb near downtown Chicago, and though she portrays a variety of subject matter—from landscapes and marine life to portraits and figurative works—the city repeatedly beckons her. Chicagoans can find the artist painting en plein air along the Windy City’s sidewalks, landmarks, and lakefront. Sometimes Body finds higher ground, painting from such vantage points as the top level of a parking garage overlooking a traffic-packed avenue. Whether portraying a corner store, taxi cab, or Wrigley Field, her ultimate goal remains the same: to capture the subtleties of light, depth, and atmosphere. Even in her studio, Body approaches her work as she would a plein-air painting. “If I’m working from a photograph, I’ll do several quick studies to try and re-create depth and natural light in my composition before completing the final painting,” she explains.

Body recently garnered top awards for two of her Chicago cityscapes in Paint Your City, an international painting competition in Los Angeles, and last year she received an honorable mention from the American Women Artists for a scene set in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Having studied with a bevy of esteemed artists, including the late impressionist painter Ken Auster (1949-2016), Body ponders her most seminal influences. Among them, she credits her former professor at SIU Bob Paulson. “Bob taught me how to be fearless when faced with a blank canvas,” she says. “When it came to painting, he stressed seeing big shapes and staying loose, a lesson that remains valuable today.” —Kim Agricola

representation
Water Street Gallery, Douglas, MI; Hinsdale Gallery, Hinsdale, IL; Stone Soup Gallery, Key West, FL.

This story was featured in the October 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art  October 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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