We had the good fortune of connecting with Martin Krafft and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Martin, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
A year or so after I graduated from college, I was going for a walk with my old photography professor. I was showing him some photos that I had made. During our walk, he made a comment about art that has stuck with me and guided my career choices. He said, “No one is going to understand your decision to make art. No one is going to expect you to do it, or even encourage you to do it. It’s not understood as a viable career path. So if you’re going to do it, you do it because you have to do it. And you’re the only one who can convince yourself to do it.” Since then, I have become increasingly committed to living a life of art. That comes with financial sacrifices, particularly since the art I make is not commercially viable. I have had to take another job outside the art field that pays me enough to live on and still gives me time to make art. But my most important commitment is to making art. Because to make art is to live in a way that is open to the universe. It is to relish creativity and the rush of excitement that comes with discovering the unknown. I make art because to make art is to contemplate the world. Art provides a scaffold and an impetus for me to contemplate.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I studied Creative Writing and Economics in college. I took three photography courses, having never really done much in photography before. And for the next five years I kept taking photographs. I decided to go to graduate school in photography. I didn’t know much about the art world. But over the three years of graduate school, I learned. I transitioned from photography more into video and social practice work. I learned that art can be anything, and saw parallels with the community organizing I had done previously. I’ve learned that the creative process is a long one. You need a combination of structure and freedom. You have to be organized. You have to decide how much money you need to live and probably be OK with not making that much. My mind bounces all over the place, so it can be difficult to find a unifying thread. But here are a few themes that come up in my work: 1. the stranger. How we relate to the stranger is the bedrock of our society, and I am constantly exploring new ways of engaging with the stranger, such as hitchhiking across the country for an art project. 2. the unhoused. I spent years working with and building relationships with unhoused folks in Atlanta. That experience gives me a perspective on the urgency of social and economic justice in our country. 3. family. My family is very tight-knit. We look out for each other. I am drawn to explore the familial gaze, how we look at each other and expect to be looked at. I’ve made loads of work, now it’s just a matter of buckling down to apply to places so that it can be seen in the world, which seems to take just as much if not more work than making the art itself.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
That great pizza place near the art museum, and the art museum. I love the piece by Yayoi Kutsama.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The faculty at the University of Arizona’s art program are outstanding, as well as my photography professor at Emory, Jason Francisco, and my first professor, Laura Noel.