By Pria Rahmouni
Special to the Tribune-Star
The Wabash Valley Art Guild is featuring the August Artist of the Month, Jean Kristeller, whose works of photography are on display at the Vigo Country Public Library at Seventh and Poplar streets.
A doctoral graduate in psychology from Yale University and currently professor emeritus at Indiana State University, Kristeller’s other passion is the arts. Over the years, she has been actively engaged in photography as well as botanical art such as flower arrangement and specialized garden design, and as an art collector.
Kristeller recollects that she has always been fascinated by the interplay of space, form, color and structure. Hailing from a family of art lovers — particularly Japanese art — she moved to Japan at age 20 for two years, where she began experimenting with photography — and began collecting art. Her subjects ranged from nature to people and their architecture. Working with an Olympic SLR camera, Kristeller captured numerous images of these elements both in Japan as well as on the Pacific Rim during her visit back home to the United States. Over the years, however, her love of nature has become the primary inspiration for her photography.
As Kristeller’s subjects of photography evolved, so did her technique and equipment, especially since high-quality, subcompact cameras became available. She then shifted to the Canon Powershot, with which she has captured numerous breath-taking images of sunsets and sunrises while on the ground in various places, but also from airplanes as she travels. Kristeller prefers to leave her photographs pure and unedited. To her, “the editing comes in framing the shot and moving the camera to capture the ever-moving and changing light.”
Although her photography is a product of self-study and practice, she learned set-design for a short period during her undergraduate days at Swarthmore College, and studied flower arranging while in Japan and back in the United States. One of her past ventures in floral art was her flower design business named “Pine and Roses.” She has since been active in other projects infusing flowers, shapes and colors.
Currently, she is involved in the installation of the Contemplative Garden at ISU, a visual and experiential space in the courtyard of Root Hall. According to Kristeller, this garden is intended to “evoke the spiritual and psychological healing principles that are universally engaged, and which inspired our Center for the Study of Health, Religion and Spirituality, at ISU.”
The photography images displayed at the library include a sunrise streaming through the mist on the coast of California, at Esalen on Big Sur, and of the garden where Kristeller was residing, to teach a program on meditation and mindful eating. The other image consists of a sunset, on the beach at Waikiki, Hawaii, in which she has captured the life of the beach and the drama of the sky.
Kristeller is an active member of the guild, and is frequently showcased in art events in the Wabash Valley.