Global Nomad artist Christine Rasmussen’s highly mobile upbringing shows in her paintings. She illustrates scenes that feel familiar but foreign all at the same time. Her focus is on the beauty of “the in-between,” or urban areas that are usually passed by without second thought. Through these landscapes, feelings familiar to many Third cultre Kids (TCKs) are explored, for example: emptiness, belonging, boundaries and aloneness.
Before living in Los Angeles, Calif., U.S.A, Rasmussen’s American parents raised her in Pakistan, Vietnam and around the United States. Because of this, in art and life, she experiences and explores the paradox of belonging and aloneness existing simultaneously. Empty urban environments display this feeling for Rasmussen. She has found these urban landscapes not just in Los Angeles, but in all of the places, she lived as TCK.
When Rasmussen began painting, her art was a direct reflection of her global nomad past. The art was about loss and memory, and the attempt to find roots. These sentiments can be recognized symbolically in the paintings. She soon expanded her work to femininity, cultural norms, and stereotypes. This phase soon branched out into her series “Fenomenal”, which aims to give a platform to create a better future with gender equality.
Symbolism in Art
In Rasmussen’s paintings, femininity is symbolized through floating discarded garments.
“It references both decorating and covering the human body, while weaving, sewing, and washing have been traditional “women’s” work,” Rasmussen said in an interview with Singulart.com.
Boundaries and division are illustrated in the paintings through straight lines. However, paintings of doors and windows can be taken as signs of opportunity. In her collection titled “Windows”, Rasmussen illustrates windows around the world. Furthermore, she reconciles familiarity and the feeling of being an outsider as a global nomad. Because windows either allow one to look in or out, but not come in, Rasmussen sees them as a barrier.
“‘So where are you from?’ Windows became a symbol of the separation I felt from people who could answer this question without hesitation.” Rasmussen said.
Shelters and Barriers
When passing a metal fence, many may see it as a sign to “keep out!,” a form of separation. However, Rasmussen sees these common fences as a form of connection. As a global nomad, Rasmussen recognizes corrugated metal fences as a city feature that could be virtually anywhere. Uniquely, a simple building material that can be “a point of familiarity even in a foreign place,” Rasumessen’s said in her biography. So, rather than a means of division, the fences can also be shelters and common ground.
Creativity Through Re-creation
Moving from country to country created a feeling of needing to start life from scratch for Rasmussen. But she soon learned to take advantage of this, and re-make herself each time at her own will.
“If what I’m doing isn’t yielding the results I want, this mindset allows me to change course, shake it up, or find a different model,” Rasmussen said in an interview with Shoutout LA.
Exploration of Femininity
Along with boundaries and urban scenes, Rasmussen explores femininity and challenges its boundaries. A global nomad background exposed Rasmussen to three vastly different cultures. Because of this, she was able to see how femininity and women’s roles in society all differ culturally. Her paintings reflect “femininity as a force of nature—fearless, unfettered and unapologetic” Rasmussen said in an interview with Singulart.
Rasmussen’s painting allows her to convert emotions that many TCKs may find familiar, into art. In the light of turning spaces of the ‘in-between’ into a shared feeling of familiarity, she has been able to create common ground for global nomads, and people all around the world. You may recognize some of the paintings, but cannot quite put your finger on where it was you saw the scene. If this is the case, Rasmussen’s nostalgic painting style has done its trick.