New York City, New York / United States
Kate, you call yourself a visual storyteller, which I love! You live and create in New York City and you have a wonderful resume full of residencies, group exhibits and solo shows. Can you tell us a little more about your background and journey into art?
I was born and raised in NYC. I remember seeing a solo exhibition of Matisse’s work when I was around 12. That was when I knew I wanted to make art.
It was after studying in Paris for a semester that I knew I was going to be a full-time artist.
I had no choice, my art called me. I got my BFA at Binghamton University and my MFA at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Post graduate school, I returned to NYC to start my career.
It really wasn’t until about 2010 - 2011 after I took a few business courses that I really began to understand how to run my art career. I started to get grants and residencies, those were both life-changing for me. I was able to sustain myself from my artwork. In 2018, I received a Pollock Krasner Grant that was huge. It funded my work for a year. I had Matti that same year.
I absolutely adore the large-scale works from your current series „A Love Letter To My City“ which is about New York City. What does this series represent to you?
This series is a tribute to my ever-changing city.
As a native New Yorker, I’m accustomed to change. Over the course of my lifetime, its residents have transformed the city more times than I can count. That experience informs my art. I believe all things change and I make art that alludes to this process.
People and systems inspire me. I constantly take pictures as a means of understanding and documenting the world around us. I use these images to create photo-based collage paintings. I cut and tear photographs into pieces and these torn pieces replace a paintbrush as my primary drawing tool.
The fragmentation of the torn photos depicts how I see our world systems - messy and broken. I break down existing structures and create new compositions. The physical act of my ripping up the photos alludes to the systemic issues pulling apart our society. Using photos of broken structures to rebuild our country I make new worlds that seek systemic justice and redefine beauty. I draw inspiration from those who came before me. In the words of Louise Bourgeois,
“Art is restoration: the idea is to repair the damages that are inflicted in life, to make something that is fragmented... into something whole. “
Your work in general mirrors issues that are arising in our society – you focus on gender inequality, environment, motherhood and the politics of change. You said that you want your daughter to know about the state of the world now and know that you weren’t silent. This is so inspiring! What are you most passionate about?
I am most passionate about fighting against racial injustice and gender inequality. These two issues run strongly through my thoughts as I work.
You have collaborated with Artbridge and Google and had your work installed on the Google Building in New York. What was the work about and how did it all happen?
Artbridge is an amazing organization that puts artwork into public spaces. They partnered with Google to reproduce my work on the exterior of the Google building. They reproduced multiple images from my series ‘A Love Letter to My City’. It was incredible to see my work on the outside of a building.
Your daughter Matti is two years old and you’ve been spending time in your studio with her since she was a few weeks old. Are you going to involve her in your creative process?
She loves being in the studio. I actually just started to incorporate her in multiple ways. We work on collaborative drawings all of the time. I love it. Her drawing and painting are so incredible. It is a constant reminder to me that I am seeking in my practice the freedom she has so naturally. I also am in the beginning phases of a series on Motherhood, using photographs of my pregnancy and her. I want to share through the unseen realities of being a mother.
How did you feel about motherhood in the past and how do you feel about it now?
I tried to not have preconceived notions of what motherhood would be like. I truly believe there are struggles as moms we all share but that everyone's experience is different. I love being a mother. It is the most incredible experience of my life. A new challenge to me is recently becoming a single mom.
What is the message behind your art?
My art depicts my reality. I have always made work about my life.
What does your art do for you?
That is a hard question. I think choosing to be an artist is not an easy life but nothing incredible is easy. My art allows me to help make the world a better place.
What are your plans for the future (career, parenting etc.)?
I am raising my incredible daughter in NYC.
I plan on exhibiting in galleries and museums throughout the world.
I also am working on plans to start a gallery to exclusively exhibit women artists and mothers.
What advice do you have for fellow art mums?
Hang in there. It is so challenging. I am truly so lucky to have the support of my family to help provide care for my daughter so I can work. It is not easy what we do. We are so powerful as women and mothers. Self-care is so important and often hard to find time to do. I think if we can stay focused one day at a time, on putting our own happiness first and taking good care of ourselves we can lead our children by example.