In Conversation with:
Interview by Durga Chew-Bose.
From a chorus of cactuses to a wreath-like illustration on a thank you card, the artist Christina Hart is always considering how lovely it is to give and receive, applying whimsy and a warm sense of humor to the very necessary act (especially now) of keeping in touch. Hart plays with language to deliver a smile or a moment of recognition—the simple tenderness of a letter that says “I love you,” spelled “I <3 U,” brings to mind notes we might have passed to each other in high school. A card with illustrated hanging plants, reminding a friend to do just that, “Hang In There,” is uncomplicated but suggests someone is thinking about you, supporting you. In our increasingly screen obsessed time, it’s nice to encounter work that is hand-drawn and immediate, that comes from a place of slowing down, paying attention, taking the time to drop a letter in the mail. Thank U, Christina.
Describe your first memory.
I distinctly remember a summer day at the beach, around the age of 3 or 4, walking down the street with my family, and admiring what else...plants. I pricked my finger on a cactus (I had to touch!) after my mom told me not to, which inevitably ended in tears and tweezers. Fortunately this incident did not discourage my love of plants later in life. I have yet to stop doing things I’ve been told not to do.
What smell do you most associate with your childhood home?
This is going to sound insane, but I swear Halloween has a smell. There is nothing like an East coast Halloween – the leaves crunching under your feet, the crisp fall air, and the faintest hint of sweetness from the entirely too heavy bag of candy you worked so hard to fill. I’m instantly transported to my childhood, running amok through the neighborhood I grew up in. I can smell it now... I love this time of year, can you tell?
Describe your coziest scenario.
Couch + blanket + husband + good movie and the dog keeping my feet warm (oh and snacks, snacks are important). Doesn’t get much cozier than that!
What fuels your imagination?
Time spent in nature, trips to greenhouses and nurseries. I’m always inspired by the things growing around me. If I’m feeling down, bored, or uninspired, I can usually solve that dilemma with a new plant. Also the people in my life. I’m constantly jotting down the funny they say – lots of greeting card potential there! I probably owe a few people royalties or something!
Close your eyes. Imagine your dream view: what is it?
The top of a mountain, where you meet the clouds and can see for miles (it’s my dream to summit a mountain someday). I’d also settle for an alpine forest, with a crystal clear glacial lake and snowy peaks in the distance... I can’t wait to travel again!
When is your mind its clearest? Are you more motivated in the morning? Or are evenings when your brain buzzes?
When I’m running outside I develop some of my best ideas. It’s always when I’m not actually thinking about work. The alone time outside is most often when things pop into my mind. I am definitely a morning person. I make it a point to get up early when my husband does for work (and I mean 5am early). I’m not particularly motivated or doing anything productive in these early morning hours, but a quiet cup of coffee, slowly getting prepared for the day as the sun comes up, is my favorite. That also means I’m probably in bed by 9pm!
How has your work provided you with a sense of calm, especially this year?
Well, this is a hard one since this year has been anything but calm, and work has not provided the reliable escape I look forward to in these uncertain times. However, I do find calm in the more menial daily tasks these days, like folding a stack of a thousand cards or rolling up sheets of gift wrap, or tracking inventory. It’s nice to get into a rhythm and zone out even if it’s only for a few hours.
What should the card read for ringing in 2021?
You Survived the Big One?
The last person you texted a leaf emoji to?
My sister in law! I think my plant obsession has rubbed off on her, and she’s such a natural plant person!