In the Loop
Student Stories : Jan 25, 2018

Visual Arts student makes UF campus her canvas

By Coral Dixon

Creative Gators may have seen Visual Arts Studies junior Carina Krehl outside of Fine Arts Building A, transforming a tree and the bike racks as a part of an installation project. Krehl chose the location to complete her assignment for her class, Site Specific Painting Studio.

“This is the table I like to sit at the most on campus,” she said, gesturing towards the table behind her. “I’ve always thought the knots on the tree were interesting. I would always try to look and find faces and stuff.”

Krehl’s influence for the project is the work of Salvador Dali, who is known for finding figures and shapes in nature and in life. She points to her internship during the fall semester at the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, as a major source for inspiration and creativity.

“To be able to see his work every day and talk about his work with extremely well-read and well-traveled, incredible people… to have that as an influence on me every single day, clearly that’s going to do something for me,” Krehl said. “I had Dali on the mind, basically.”

Site Specific Painting Studio, taught by Associate Professor Julia Morrisroe, challenges students to transform the appearance and meaning of a physical space.

“The work is specific to the exact location,” Krehl said. “You can’t pick it up and put it in a gallery. You have to physically be there to actually experience it. You can take pictures of this and people would get it, but it’s different than physically walking around in it.”

The class instructor uses the word “flat-lander” to describe the tendency of artists, and specifically painters, to only think in terms of 2-D when creating a work of art. Krehl said that thinking about art in 3-D is interesting but also challenging.

“Breaking that barrier was difficult,” Krehl said, “but when you get out of your comfort zone, then you can really start making something new and more tangible.”

As well as her internship at the Dali Museum, Krehl said that being at the University of Florida provides her with many opportunities to develop and expand as an artist. She won the LifeWater Design contest, for which two of her works are now displayed in the UF Bookstore in the Reitz Union.

Her classes have also allowed her to gain constructive criticism, support and exposure.

“This is my assignment, you know, but here we are talking about me as a person and my art business, so it gives me exposure,” Krehl said.

On the table in front of her project she placed a notebook advertising her Instagram account for her art business, @CDKdesigns.

Krehl’s friends often came to her for help with art projects or to request that she make something for them. She realized that if she were more organized, she’d be able to work more professionally with clients and accept commission works.

“That’s when I started thinking, ‘I should brand myself,’” Khrel said.

Krehl, who is also in the Innovation Academy and completing a minor in innovation, decided to use her signature that she started using for her artwork in middle school as her logo. Since creating CDK Designs in October 2016, she has completed many commission works, including family portraits and murals for restaurants.

Above all, Krehl values the support she finds in the UF arts community.

“What has taught me the most as an artist and as an art student is my peers because we all have different backgrounds, skillsets and abilities,” Krehl said.

She also benefits from the insight her professors offer.

“I think that the most successful students in general… are the people who make an effort to listen during critique,” Krehl said. “If someone is critiquing you on something, it’s not because they want to see you fail. It’s because they have insight that you just don’t have yet.”

She also feels that she has the opportunity to define who she is as an artist in her classes.

“It’s important to listen to acknowledge your professors during critiques, but you also have to know when it’s important to say ‘I disagree, and this is the reason why,’” Krehl said. “As long as you have a valid reason and you have put thought into it, it’s generally respected overall.”

With so much opportunity and the support of her fellow Gator artists, Krehl is looking forward to a bright future as an artist.

“I can tell whenever something is a pivotal turning point, and for me I feel like that’s kind of what’s happening now,” Krehl said.