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Christian Restrepo

Polly Thayer Starr Visiting Studio Artist

Visiting Studio Artist, July-September 2017

As a contemporary response to the special exhibition Henry James and American Painting, Visiting Studio Artist Christian Restrepo worked with the Museum to develop a Saturday Open Studio workshop series that encouraged Museum visitors to consider how we use the arts to fashion personal identify and present ourselves to the world. The artist notes:

While digging deeper into the history of the museum and the relationships Isabella Stewart Gardner forged with artists and writers such as John Singer Sargent and Henry James, I was reminded of my own community of friends and artists, a community in which we influence, support, and inspire one another. These relationships became the foundation of the body of work I created during my time at the Gardner as a Visiting Studio Artist. Mirroring the artistic circles of Isabella Stewart Gardner, Sargent, James, and others, my community of artists has shaped me into the maker I am today and will continue to be.

Together with Boston-based photographer Mike Zaia, I recreated masterful portraits painted by John Singer Sargent of Henry James and Isabella Stewart Gardner. These photographs reinterpret the original paintings through my contemporary lens. In each portrait, I’ve featured women in my life who have had a significant impact on my work and who will continue to influence me, because nothing is ever achieved alone. These influential women function as contemporary stand-ins for Gardner and James.

About the Artist

Christian Restrepo is a Boston-based American/Colombian maker and the architect of SIGILO, a body of work that echos those ideas of the alchemist, with pieces created in a slow-cooked manner. Using unusual and mundane materials, he explores intimate and human emotions through an obsessive, almost ritualistic process, learning to look at things not for what they are, but rather for what they could be. Obsessed with the process, it defines the results.