Tuesday, May 01, 2012


The statement for my current exhibition:

"One of the functions of art is to strip us bare, reminding us of the fragility common to every human being across continents and centuries. Often, I will meet someone, and the visible weight of his or her life becomes almost unbearable to me, it rips me open. The objects that I make are an attempt to articulate this feeling.

These are serious times for many people, and this body of work, made during a difficult period in my own narrative, has literally saved my life. The repetitive act of embroidery seems to be made for calming worry... trying to tie things down, sew them in, make them stay. Embroidering with hair possesses its own unique intensity: each barely perceptible stitch is like a rosary bead, marking a tiny but ardent prayer whispered over and over.

I consider the inordinate amount of time invested in each piece as a gift given to the viewer. It often feels as though the cathectic things I make are an act of profound resistance: I give birth to the tactile as I am swallowed by the virtual. I obsess over craft as our world becomes disposable. I wield emotion in its messiness because it's uncool. I work until my hands shake, because the world does not care.

I am banging my head against the wall, but the stain is beautiful."

So, it occurred to me (awaking with a start at 3:15 a.m.) that Adriana Herrera, the Nuevo Herald writer, is the first one to articulate a vital aspect of my work... art as protection, art as exorcism. I have never ascribed to the "know when to stop" philosophy of art making... I have always worked on things until there is nothing I could possibly do to make the work stronger. I have always been aware of a kind of essential neuroticism in my process that other artists I know do not seem to struggle with. I have always had a hard time letting my work go because I feel like so many of the pieces I have made have literally taken years off of my life, that they were imbued with something that I myself could not put into words. I have sold less work than I should due to the fact that I will not price them lower, because I feel there is blood in them: this seems like a melodramatic thing to say in this day and age, but that does not make it less true. 

The light bulb that went off in my head in the middle of the night is that (not coincidentally) my particular creative process is like doing everything that you can to help an alcoholic or depressive get better, so when you finally let them go, you can be at peace, knowing in your own mind & heart that you did everything that YOU were capable of doing. I have always known that my process had something to do with my familial pathologies, but I wrote it off as simply being a way to channel the addictive tendencies I was born/raised with into something productive. But Ms. Herrera is right when she noted "as if the extreme effort put into it would protect what is represented." I realize that I have always used my art in this way, whether exorcising the fears, experiences, darkness, or weaving a spell, conferring a blessing.
I couldn't be more delighted with the press that my current show is receiving. The last few years have been some of the most difficult in my life... the physical and emotional conditions were beyond daunting. I am usually pretty hard on myself, always thinking of that (impossible) goal that I was aiming for rather than what I actually achieved, but looking at the show, I am extremely proud that I was able to produce that work. 

I have had lots of shows over the years, but this one means more to me than most. To be given the opportunity to have these pieces be seen beyond the few hundred people who might experience them in the gallery is a great gift to me. 

That said, what I am really excited about is stretching some velvet and gessoing some paper today for the next pieces, pushing, pushing forward.


Anonymous bunny mazhari said...

I have always felt it implied that art made by women was somehow inferior to that made by men. Women were too preoccupied with their domestic duties you see! Women concentrated too much on parturating, lactating and menstruating,and their mental interior was an alien one for those who judged art and curated it. This makes me so angry because real life is made up of the small daily events and my work is full the stuff!. The subjects you deal with have moved more more than any Rothko or Picasso because they resonated in me. I lived your work and understood it. I didn't put it on a pedestal and admired because I was told it was worthy of admiration. The nest of hair moved me to tears, it's vulnrability and rawness have stayed with me. You deserve all the recognition and success Kate, well done! I could have worded this better but if I read it over I'll delete it, so I'll leave it alone.

12:58 PM  

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