Style Logs: Welcome Theresa Chromati

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When I find something on the rack, I hold my breath and look around to see if anyone else sees the greatness I’m witnessing.

Oh, good, no one else cares.

When I’m stuck while working on a piece, I fool around with lines and ideas until I draw my way into something that just makes me laugh. That’s when I know I have an image that I can stand behind.

When I was younger I really cared about form-fitting looks and it being black, for a while. I started mixing patterns probably when I really started to challenge myself with creating a look as an artist.

And around that time, I decided to cut off my hair and bleach my eye brows. But that didn’t last long because, during my undergrad, this woman at the financial aid office said, “I know you’re ‘avant garde,’ but this isn’t the look.” I couldn’t have agreed more. That week of blonde eyebrows was over and I went back to black. A friend put me on to making wigs and it’s been uphill ever since. At this point, I could be bald one day then have a custom purple baby bang, the next.

Years went by and I held on to what I learned in my undergrad years of mixed media and wig making, and I’m still evolving the two.

Style Logger Theresa Chromati. Photo: Ryan Lyons

Theresa Chromati. Photo: Ryan Lyons

But once I moved to New York, everything changed. Art supplies costed more and my clothes costed more, but I adjusted. I mean, what else are you going to do? There was no more dive thrifting for a while, and I adjusted to consignment shops. Instead of leaving the store with a bag full of finds I got used to the ‘Ok, I’m going out to find two items or one item I feel like I can’t live without” shopping. But months later, of course, I forgot those items existed. I had to spend more for my look, therefore I paid more attention to how unique the find was and its material. Slowly –very slowly –I started collecting items that were unique and I was very proud of my rack of colors, but eventually I realized something else about the way I shopped.

I didn’t choose clothes that paired with other clothes. I had been so focused on finding extreme looks –which was great –and nothing was practical; none of the patterns really went together. I just came to the conclusion that I can wear all of these patterns together and own it.

Things got a lot better when I moved to Broadway over top of this thrift store and Baptist church, I don’t even know the name because it didn’t matter. I would wake up to the choir and roll right into the store. I’ll never forget the Paul Gauguin button-up I got for free.

Since then, I’ve been layering and contrasting textiles and colors –exactly what I’ve been doing in my work as a mixed media artist.

Right now I’m cold and really into turtle necks (well, even if it was summer I would want a mesh turtle neck) and pairing that with my favorite dark-wash jeans and these jazz-
esque slip on shoes I found at this church thrift store in Baltimore.

I’m getting fidgety, I must want to cut my hair, or make a wig, …or bleach my eyes brows again.

Theresa Chromati is a mixed media artist born and based in Baltimore. A recent graduate of Pratt Institute, Chromati is working on a new body of work which combines layers of digital and analogue stylized figures and textures. Her two-dimensional compositions illustrate women's identity and their interaction with body consciousness, lust and reliability to the masculine body. Chromati is also co-founder of Dwelaa, a creative duo formed with Janjay Matthews. Its main focus is curating events that gather creatives from Baltimore, and surrounding cities, that encourage integration of art forms and philosophies with curated artists talks, workshops, and a variety of other creative outlets.