In anticipation of the release of The Walnut Branch magazine Volume 1, we interviewed each featured artist to learn more about their artistic journeys, inspirations, and processes.

Today, we are featuring our interview with Chattanooga multimedia artist Kris Bespalec. We were introduced to her incredible art installation at The Hunter Art Museum in collaboration with Ballet Esprit, and we are thrilled to share her work with you in the inaugural edition of The Walnut Branch.

Q: Can you share a bit about your artistic journey and what inspired you to pursue your chosen medium?

I have been making art most of my life– I am drawn to things I see in nature and the ways they connect to stories and personal experiences. My recent work connects the varied definitions of certain materials and how they function– for example salt can be used to preserve but also to deteriorate. I connect these varied definitions in how I use the materials to convey meaning in my work.

Q: How do you approach the creative process? Are there specific rituals or methods you follow to bring your ideas to life? 

Walking in nature always inspires me. In my studio, I surround myself with objects that excite me– moss, branches, old photos, nests, metal and wood and other things I have found while hiking and exploring. All of these things are used to inspire my work and often get integrated into the work itself. I am very interested in the way memory affects the way we interact with the world, and how memories can change or even be manipulated through our experiences.

Q: Who or what are your major artistic influences? How have they shaped your work? 

I have so much respect for women artists who have challenged the way we view and experience art! Mierle Ukeles is known for her feminist and service-oriented works. I was inspired by her manifesto that proclaims that all acts made by an artist are art in and of themselves. She wrote the manifesto when she became a mother– I also am a mother and often the labor of motherhood is not fully understood or valued. She shifted this labor into a work of art. I also love Anne Hamilton who has been a major inspiration for creating meaningful installation work and interactive art spaces.

Q: What do you hope readers take away from your art? Is there a particular message or emotion you aim to convey?

I love when viewers can see, touch, smell and fully experience the work in person! In a publication, I hope the viewers can get lost in the texture of the materials and the way the light moves through the fabric. Being present is a huge part of my work, so I hope readers take the time to pause and take in all the details and material elements of the work.

Q: Can you share a challenge you’ve faced in your artistic journey and how it contributed to your growth as an artist?

Finding and embracing a voice as an artist is full of challenges! There are many times I am unsure if I am communicating things the way I want to and I have had bodies of work that just did not work how I thought they would. These are learning moments that challenge me and move me forward in my work.

Q: Where do you see your artistic journey taking you in the future? Are there specific goals or projects you aspire to undertake in 2024?

I am working with the local dance company, Ballet Esprit on a series of performances that will take place in 2024. I have worked with them before, and I love seeing my work become activated by the dancers!

Walnut Street Publishing is a Chattanooga-based independent publisher that specializes in amplifying stories from new and experienced authors and artists. We build a bridge for authors and artists to their audience around the world. We do this by creating avenues for talented individuals to publish their work. We believe in working together to help bring stories to life. We specialize in helping new authors find their voice and assist them in the publishing process while also being a solution to experienced authors who want a more personal publisher.

Emily Quinn

Emily Quinn

Emily Quinn is the creative force behind our social media magic! As the social media manager for Walnut Street Publishing, Emily brings her passion for art and music to every post. When she's not crafting content, you can find her crocheting with her cats and trying to keep track of her husband, Aaron Quinn.