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Christy Hengst’s life could be described as a rollicking pick-up truck bumping along a dirt road, with kids, love, art and travel all mixed up on board. She is also an only child grown up to crave a lot of alone time in the studio. Alternating between site-specific public art projects, and studio painting and drawing, Relationship [with self, others, and landscape] threads throughout.
Sense of place emerged early on as a focus. Hengst’s permanent thesis installation in the Science Center at Amherst College was derived from hundreds of sketches and interviews with the occupants. That was the first of many public projects integrating relationship with place, including a treasure hunt circle of paintings in a small town in Massachusetts, three bus stops in Santa Fe, a large collaborative sculpture for a plaza in Cuenca, Ecuador, a Haiku Path in a college courtyard and the four-year traveling international installation "Birds in the Park".
Soon after college, Hengst travelled westward in a station wagon with a bed in the back, a cabinet she had built with her dad packed with gessoed panels, and a cigar box full of oil sticks, visiting people and painting all along the way until eventually landing in Santa Fe, NM. There she met her future husband and creative partner, German blacksmith Helmut Hillenkamp. Together they have collaborated on many public and private projects, including raising two kids.
Hengst's studio is still in Santa Fe, in a creative zone of artists and craftspeople where cross-discipline collaboration is common. She continues to use all materials available in her investigation into the mysteries of place and relationship.
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