Krysta Jabczenski | Apiece Apart Woman

Krysta Jabczenski | Apiece Apart Woman
 
Santa Fe ceramicist, photographer, and artist Krysta Jabczenski wears many hats, so to borrow the language of her friend (and most recent Apiece Apart Woman!) Marjory Sweet, we’ll simply say: Krysta is “endlessly curious, and open to what form her creative instincts take.” We first discovered Krysta’s work through Zizi, her line of utilitarian ceramics crafted in vivid Pantones; the sort of timeless-with-a-twist, everyday relics we’re always searching for.

Born and raised in the desert Southwest, Krysta’s story feels in ever-evolving dialogue with her surroundings. Her work and sensibility embody what it means to be from a place, to embody a relationship with your personal geography and its influence on who you were and are. Completely without pretense, Krysta is the kind of person you want to sit down with and really, patiently explore an idea; she’s who we’d call to embark on a walk without a destination in mind, purely setting out to see and listen without expectation.

Here, flipping the script on our last Woman story, we invited Marjory to interview Krysta on living amidst the process, finding magic in snowy trail runs, and striving for honesty (plus…lots of good music recommendations!) Read on!

 

Krysta Jabczenski | Apiece Apart Woman

Marjory:

You lived most of your life in parts of the desert Southwest and I know this part of the world really resonates with you on various levels. In what ways do you find New Mexico special?

Krysta:

When I leave the Southwest it’s a guttural fish out of water feeling. I grew up in Albuquerque and Tucson so I just feel most myself in this environment (currently in Santa Fe). I’m happiest when I’m active and outside running or skiing, or tracking down a swimming spot with my family. I don’t mind driving as long as they are open roads with big skies rather than sitting in traffic. I’m especially happy when I can smell creosote before a summer monsoon or piñon burning in the winter.  New Mexico is not for everyone so I don’t mean to overly romanticize it, but it’s just home for me, it's comforting.

I was just thinking yesterday that my body and my house are always so dusty in New Mexico! But to me it feels clean in the way that the earth is clean, a million times cleaner than how I feel when I’m in a large city surrounded by people and smog.

Marjory:

You are someone who is often considering the process, and letting your curiosity unfold. Do you feel like you're engaged in a particular process right now? And how important is the outcome?

Krysta:

The best way I can talk about process engagement is through my relationship with trail running but the concept spans through many facets of my life. I used to be very concerned with how far and how fast I was running. When I was training for marathons I got burned out, I injured myself because I was pushing myself and I constantly questioned why I was putting myself through it.

So, I stepped back. I made a list of why I liked to trail run and realized it was all process oriented.  I like the invigorating feeling of oxygenating my body with fresh air. I liked being in nature and noting what plants and animals were present throughout the seasons. I liked how running really helped me metabolize anger and anxiety and leave me feeling calm. It wasn’t about the mileage or the pace or accomplishment at all.  These days I run pretty frequently, sometimes they are long, often they are short, but I always meet myself where I am without judgment.

I try to bring that attitude to the table with ceramics. Somedays I just have to buckle down and make lots of mugs so I try to stay present with how my hands are moving with each one, I light a candle, make the lighting nice and listen to music. Somedays I try to make something new and feel frustrated when the design isn’t working, those days I remind myself that it will unfold in the time that it’s meant to. It’s being honest with yourself.

 

Krysta Jabczenski | Apiece Apart Woman

Marjory:

Can you describe a recent "aha" moment in the Zizi studio?

Krysta:

When we all went into lockdown last year, I needed a break from being on the computer and doing photography work. I made our backyard shed into a pottery studio, and started selling work. Then, suddenly, I started getting lots of requests for these blue mugs. I never really wanted to be a production potter and had no plans of making the same shape over and over again, but here I was doing that. With practice, the mugs got better and more refined. I realized the value in doing the same thing with repetition; if I hadn’t made hundreds of this one thing I never would have gotten to this place. Now, I am more interested in how they evolve very slowly over time.

Marjory:

Can you describe the most transcendent run you've ever taken?

Krysta:

More recently, I started running in the snow, which I didn't do when I first moved to Santa Fe, because I am sort of wimp when it comes to cold weather.  But once I did, the winters got exponentially better and I realized there is something about running through a snowy desert that is almost otherworldly in a vast and minimal way. It’s so good to build heat inside your body when it’s so cold outside!  These days I really long for that feeling.

Marjory:

When I met you, you had been a mom for several years. You mother your daughter so naturally and seem to delight in her presence in a way that is really lovely to be around. What has surprised you most about motherhood?

Krysta:

Honestly, I just think kids are hilarious, they force you to join their goof-off party. I am surprised in myself for developing a particular interest in seeing what my daughter is like as a unique individual. I really don’t like intervening in that, I don’t tell her how to dress or how to act or what hobbies she should be into. There’s nothing that makes me happier than seeing her feel confident and engaged and free. Oftentimes she gets dressed in a tutu and a Hawaiian button up and acts like a bunny when she’s shy. I think she’s great and most things are better when she’s around.

 

Krysta Jabczenski | Apiece Apart Woman

Marjory:

What rituals or practices do you rely on to make sure you're staying true to yourself?

Krysta:

For a long time I talked myself out of practicing ceramics, because I felt like the world didn't need another lady doing ceramics in the Southwest. I didn’t understand how it was meaningful. But, I kept coming back to the process purely because I enjoyed it, it made me happy and that is a truth. It didn’t matter how many other people were doing it, or how it would stand out in the sea of ceramicists on Instagram. What matters is being honest with yourself and your work and giving it space to evolve and grow slowly over time. What’s the point to any sort of artform if it’s not honesty?

I often have to remind myself that we all have a unique experience on this planet, everyone deserves to be self-expressive through any medium that makes sense for them.

Marjory:

Who is inspiring you right now?

Krysta:

I've spent the last three days going down a Judith Chafee rabbit hole — one of her homes was for sale in Tucson and it led me into watching all these videos on YouTube about her and researching all of her architecture. I'm constantly trying to think about how to build a home in the desert in a sustainable way.  Her work wasn’t recognized enough in her time, but there is a lot to learn from her life and perspective.

 

Krysta Jabczenski | Apiece Apart Woman

Marjory:

You have great taste in music. Every time I come over there's a record on or music playing in your studio. What's your favorite thing to listen to at different times of the day?

Krysta:

We're constantly listening to music. The only time that I actually am not listening to music is when I'm running.

In the morning, I stopped listening to the news because it's a shitty way to start the day. Before the sunrise, I need really gentle music — like Mary Lattimore I had some really magical experiences on mornings driving through the snowy desert listening to her but if that doesn’t put me right back to sleep, Reggae is good for mornings.  If it's a Sunday morning and we're lounging, we’ll listen to something like Nina Simone.

When I'm in my studio I will literally listen to anything. I really like Domenique Dumont right now and a lot of Steve Gunn's instrumental stuff.  Some jazz if it doesn’t stress me out, I love Art Blakely. I leaned on h hunt’s  “Playing Piano for Dad” a lot this year.

If I’m ever alone at night, which is rare! I tend to turn on the most deeply feminine music I can think of. I love it because it feels like I'm a teenager, or it's accessing a specific, nostalgic part of myself — Sybil Baier, Brigid Mae Power, Lauryn Hill, Mazzy Star, Grouper, Cat Power, Julie Byrne.