Cristina Molina’s art is a confluence of personal things – including her background, education, experience and interests. Yet Molina’s pieces – she works predominantly with still photography and large-scale video installations – explore themes that are relevant to society at large – archetypes, interpersonal relationships and narratives about women.
“I’m interested in revealing feminine and feminist perspectives where there previously may have not been one,” she says.
Case in point: A series of photographs entitled Anna Freud and her Father. In the historical photo of father and daughter that inspired the project, only the senior Freud is named. In Molina’s series, Anna’s own noteworthy biography becomes significant.
Raised by a single mother in Miami, Molina says her mother and grandmothers were all “invested in the act of making” things – from landscaping and gardening to painting and photography and that her mother exposed her to theatre, movies and other art forms at an early age. Her own experimentation with art began when she studied drama in middle school and high school. She obtained a BA in psychology, a BFA in art and an MFA in Art and Technology before becoming a full-time artist and Associate Professor of New Media and Animation at Southeastern Louisiana University. Her interests in the performing arts, psychology and technology all appear in her work.
Molina’s still life photographs are influenced by 17th-century Vanitas paintings and the medieval memento mori tradition, both of which reflect on mortality and the transience of earthly goods and pleasures. Her series The Matriarchs considers the eventual loss or mortality of two things that have influenced her greatly – her matriarchal roots and her “motherland,” Florida, which is vanishing into the sea. Many of her stills include textiles and tropical flora that call to mind Florida.
Her installations are usually non-linear and immersive. The viewer may be engulfed – literally as in the case of an inflatable shotgun that is entered, or figuratively as in the case of works that use sight, sound and touch. In an installation called Crystal Radio, she designed a metal dowel “lollipop” that transmitted sound when placed in the mouth.
Molina’s work has been exhibited at the New Orleans Museum of Art, The Ogden Museum of Southern Art, The Contemporary Arts Center and at venues worldwide. Her work also can be seen at the artist-run gallery The Front on St. Claude Ave. Photographs by Molina and her husband and collaborator Jonathan Traviesa (www.myneworleans.com/New-Orleans-Homes-Lifestyles/June-2005/Jonathan-Traviesa/), which explore the paradisiacal mythology of Florida, are included in the Ogden’s New Southern Photography exhibition on view through March 10.