New Hyde Park artist brings surrealism to library exhibit

New Hyde Park artist brings surrealism to library exhibit
One of Katherine Criss' paintings on exhibit, titled "Swinging Signals."

The surreal works of Katherine Criss, a New Hyde Park artist, are on display at the Shelter Rock Public Library.

The exhibit, titled “Surreal Encounters in Paint and Pixels,” features surrealist paintings and photographs.

“They called me up and told me they had a space open,” Criss said. “You’ve just got to roll with what comes around sometimes.”

Criss praised the recently renovated exhibit space and its lighting.

“It’s fabulous,” Criss said. “When you come in for installation, you worry about how everything will flow and look next to each other and in certain light, but the lighting in there is beautiful and the space as a whole is really something.”

She hosted a talk and reception on Oct. 4 for the exhibit, which she describes as a collection of images focused on exploring emotion.

“I love surrealism and surreal images,” Criss said. “It’s so interesting to me, finding the emotions that match to the faces I see walking down the street.”

Criss was raised to be an artist. When she was growing up in Greenwich Village, her father, Francis Criss, was a well-known painter during the rise of precisionism in America in the 1930s.

“Every day I would come home from high school and go to his studio,” Criss said. “All of the famous painters would come by and know him, and we were really surrounded by the art in the city during that era.”

Not one to follow directly in her father’s footsteps, Katherine pursued photography.

“I wanted to be an artist, but not a painter,” Criss said. “No one could be as good as daddy,” she joked.

Criss had a career as a commercial photographer until 1998.

“Then I decided I wanted to pursue my dream,” Criss said. “To use the medium of photography as a painter uses paints and canvas.”

Criss began working on layered photography: placing one image over another another to create a third, surreal image unachievable by conventional photography. Criss said that her objective is to make viewers look beyond what is concrete and interpret the image on multiple levels.

“I really enjoyed beginning to shoot slides and kind of putting them together,” Criss said. “With the idea that one image plus a second would make a third, entirely new photograph.”

But Criss said that her love for layered photography was slightly diminished by the advent of and improvements in digital photography.

“It brought me out of the dark room and hunched over a computer,” Criss said. “I desired a tactile feeling from that image creation, and the digital editing took away from that.”

As a result, Criss returned to painting, reconnecting with surrealism through brush strokes.

Criss is also a founding and contributing member of the ongoing “artist circle” group that meets regularly at B.J. Spoke gallery in Huntington.

“It’s really just a gathering of minds that have being creative in common,” Criss said.

Criss’ exhibit will on view until Oct. 29 at the library.



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