This week our Guest Q&A is with Kristin Connolly Schillaci … an artist we’ve consistently art-stalked every September when she exhibits with the Durango Autumn Arts Festival. The first time we met her she was standing in her booth, showing her 1970s Bronica film camera to a buyer. We were intrigued … a film camera? … not digital! She shoots with medium format film transparency as she travels throughout the Southwest in her 21 foot travel trailer, with husband Tony and their two dogs.
Shortly after receiving her BFA, she relocated to Santa Fe, New Mexico where she established herself as an artist, opened a fine art print shop and was elected to the Board of Directors for the Santa Fe Society of Artists. “Just Passing Through” is her current series of capturing vanishing America on film. Her eye focuses on roadside scenes, abandoned buildings, and nostalgic places that tell a story. As stated in her bio, she only shoots found places and does not stage or alter any of the images. Please meet this extraordinary, committed artist who uses the Ansel Adams method of pre-visualization to decide if a scene will work in her art series …
SWD GUEST Q&A:
SWD: Are you originally from the Southwest? If not, what brought you to the area?
Kristin: I am originally from Michigan. I grew up in Grand Haven, a small beach town on Lake Michigan. I graduated from Grand Valley State University with my photography degree in 2005, and moved to Santa Fe in 2007. Santa Fe’s mountains and art market were the initial draw, but I ended up falling in love with the Southwest. We have been coming and going for 10 years.
SWD: Soft Tacos or Crunchy?
Kristin: Soft tacos
SWD: What is your favorite adventure or getaway in the Southwest?
Kristin: That is a tough question. I love so many places in the region, but we always have great adventures in Red River, NM. Specifically a few years ago when they got 26” of snow overnight. Best snowboarding experience of my life. Even though Tony dropped the truck keys off the ski lift … amazingly he recovered them post haste.
SWD: What is your favorite Southwestern National Park?
Kristin: The Grand Canyon. My husband and I went on a three night backpacking trip there in 2012. We camped on the Colorado river for two nights. There is something magical about being in the Grand Canyon. Being extremely happy with practically no earthly belongings really opened my eyes to what matters to me. Tony and I started planning our great escape from conventional living on our drive home.
SWD: Red or Green (or Christmas)?
Kristin: I lean toward Green.
SWD: What is the most satisfying aspect of what you do?
Kristin: The most satisfying part of what I do is living a life fueled by art. I have cleared away all other distractions, and I can truly call myself an artist. The chance to travel and see America the way we are is truly a unique experience that I am grateful for. It is amazing to be able to share my work with the people that we meet along the way. People honestly appreciate the subject matter and the style in which I am capturing vanishing America. I feel like my work leaves a lasting impression on people. As an artist, how could I ask for anything more?
SWD: What is the most challenging aspect of what you do?
Kristin: The most challenging aspect of what we do is logistics. We do an average of 30 art shows a year in 6-10 different states. Managing show applications, lodging, finances, and keeping our dogs happy and safe is a full time job while living on the road.
SWD: Corn or flour tortillas?
Kristin: Blue Corn
SWD: Do you cook? What do you love to make?
Kristin: We do a lot of cooking in the travel trailer. We love tacos. Fish tacos, beef tacos, chicken tacos. All with green chile of course. We believe everything is better as tacos.
SWD: What do you absolutely refuse to eat?
Kristin: Baby cows, more commonly referred to as veal.
SWD: This may have just been answered, but … What are your thoughts on menudo (and no, we don’t mean the boy band)?
Kristin: My thoughts on menudo are that I would like to try it.
SWD: If you hypothetically moved away from the Southwest, what would you ask people to send to you in a care package? What would you miss the most about the Southwest?
Kristin: Obvious answer is Green Chile. Also anything that smells like Pinon. I would miss the mountains and the perfect climate. But most of all I would miss the light.
SWD: Is there a Southwest destination you’ve been wanting to visit?
Kristin: We haven’t been to Black Canyon of Gunnison. I’ve heard it is amazing.
SWD: Do you have a mantra?
Kristin: Control what you can control.