Brooklyn, N.Y.-based artist Katarina Jerinic creates photos, maps and other artwork revolving around – and even influencing – built landscapes, while also involving past and present ecosystems and forces behind what we see.
As an artist in residence at SPACES in the Ohio City neighborhood of Cleveland, she’s developing an exhibit that will include a walking map of the city. And to help create that map, she’s hosting moving workshops from 2 to 4 p.m. both March 7 and 14, starting at SPACES and venturing on an hour-and-a-half walk exploring the streets, neighborhoods and historic geologic stops.
Attendees are invited to wander with Jerinic and other community members – learning from the spaces around them and their past – and then stop back at SPACES for a talk, which involves hot cocoa and snacks.
Jerinic told Canvas about her residency, what she’s learned about the city so far and what she hopes are the takeaways from the scenic walks.
Walk around SPACES (Part 1) and (Part 2) will be held March 7 and 14, respectively. During your residency at SPACES, how have you prepared for the upcoming walks and what type of artistic vision went into them?
I am generally interested in walking and how it allows you to notice and think about what surrounds you in ways that driving or even riding a bike don’t. Walking and noticing is at the beginning of everything I make. Things observed are reframed and made tangible through installations of photographs and videos as well as maps and other ephemera, like postcards. I’m interested in the landscape. When I say landscape, I don’t necessarily mean what we think of as “nature,” but the built landscape too, and how those things intersect. It really is and always has been impossible to separate them, a fact becoming more and more evident with climate change.
In particular, while in residence at SPACES, I’m interested in considering ways that the landscape where Cleveland sits today was formed by a glacier – what traces and materials that powerful geologic force left behind that connect to the evolution of the city. But I’m also using the glacier as a framework to consider the powerful geologic force of people – how we shape the landscape and are part of its history, and the traces and materials that we leave behind. I want to layer episodes of the city’s history and the experiences of residents on top of layers of bedrock, clay and silt. To prepare, I’ve done a fair amount of research about geology and the city’s history, but I’ve also walked around since that’s the best way to connect to a place.
I want to point out something important though: this preparation is just a structure for these walks. Really the walks are a way for me to meet and learn from people who live here. I hope they will want to join me as collaborators.
How did you go about mapping the walk? What were key points you wanted to reach?
Each walk will be slightly different but within a mile or so radius of SPACES. I’m including some glacial highlights like Lake Erie and the bends in the Cuyahoga River, but also some industrial sites and the brick streets and buildings of Ohio City – the glacier left clay beds which were used to make those bricks. These are really just anchor points, though, as I hope participants will help chart the course through the neighborhood based on things they’d like to show and discuss.
What do you hope walkers take away from the moving workshop?
I hope that they will see their surroundings a little differently, both because the experience of walking can shift your perspective, and so can the lens of looking at the city as a landscape connected to deep history – the history of the landscape so long ago that we don’t really think of it as history, but as time. Mostly, I hope participants will be willing to be generous with me and talk to me about the city and neighborhood, pointing things out of interest to them and teaching me something about the place where they live and work. It’s my intention to then use some of the sites visited and histories gathered through the workshops to make a walking map as part of my exhibition at SPACES, available for free to visitors to the gallery and encouraging them to explore the surrounding landscape on foot.
You live and work in Brooklyn, N.Y. How long have you been in Cleveland and what’s been interesting about our city from your artistic perspective?
I’ve only been in Cleveland for about a week now! These walks are a way for me to get to know Cleveland and to learn more about the city from the people who know it the best. I did spend some time here in the fall as well, which really helped me prepare for the work I’m doing during the residency. I was fascinated by and really wanted to come to Cleveland because of its prominent natural features, but also because of its history as an important American city. I’m interested in its industrial landscape and how its natural landscape made that possible. In many areas, it’s a pedestrian, walkable city and you can feel yourself as part of history while on the sidewalk, just by looking at the architecture. I’m also interested in the many ways that Cleveland has been on the forefront of ecological thinking and initiatives in the area. Plus, there’s such an active community of artists and arts organizations here. In the short time I’ve been here, I’ve met so many warm and generous people. I feel fortunate to be able to connect to all of this through SPACES.
Much of your work connects viewers to their environment and sense of place. How did you decide to hone in on this unique focus in your artwork?
I’m not sure I decided on that focus so much as it simply evolved. I think this is the case for most artists. My background is in photography, which at its base is about noticing and reframing the world around you. But I suppose I felt too restless only making photographs! Walking has always been a way to clear my head and, I found leads to curiosity and unexpected connections. I’m also deeply interested in history (I was a history major as an undergraduate). Science is important too – another way of making sense of the world. At a certain point all of these things came together. The work I make is an aesthetic and poetic response to research and experiences navigating a place. I still use photographs a lot, but I also make whatever an idea or place dictates — maybe a video, a flag, a map, etc.