Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Kate Carr: Santa Fe, New Mexico


Artist Kate Carr 

Photos of Kate's work by by Bill Stengel 

Can you share with my readers a little about yourself?
I was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska. For some reason, it never felt like home, even as a little kid, and I couldn’t wait to leave. I grew up watching Woody Allen movies and daydreaming about living in New York City and riding in taxicabs and going to the Met. That seemed very exotic to me, even though I grew up in a landscape that is very beautiful and exotic to other people. When I was 17 I drove across country to go to college in Vermont. I have lived all over the country but kept returning to two places: Maine and New Mexico. I finally settled in Santa Fe, New Mexico four years ago. I miss the Maine coast but Santa Fe felt like a good fit. The sunshine here is remarkable, but it’s also a funky, small town where I can have a career as an artist and still maintain a fairly high quality of life. I have a garden and chickens and dogs. I can go for a hike in the mountains in the morning and go to a lecture on contemporary art, a poetry reading, or gallery opening that evening. That feels like a nice balance to me.

Did you receive any formal art training? If yes where and what did you major in?
I went to Marlboro College in southern Vermont. It is a small college where you can design your own course of study. I studied poetry and art primarily, while getting a broad liberal arts education. I went to graduate school at the University of Iowa and got my degree in sculpture. I also studied papermaking and minored in printmaking and drawing.

Fabric Stack 8

At what point in your life did you become interested in making art and was there a certain point when you decided you were primarily an artist?

I always made things and drew pictures and wrote stories growing up, but I was never the kid in class who was the best artist. I was just curious about all kinds of creative expression. I went to college thinking I was going to become a writer. I realized pretty quickly that I was more interested in visual representations of ideas, the tactility of experimenting with materials, and a kind of abstraction that I was not able to communicate with words. Language felt too direct somehow. Initially my work involved a lot of text and image combinations, and eventually the words were no longer necessary. Graduate school felt like a real turning point in terms of taking myself seriously as an artist.

What is your media?
My medium is sculpture. I make objects that can be hung on the wall, rest on the floor or exist as part of an installation. My current materials are wool felt, Baltic birch, plywood, and muslin. I am also very interested in working with linen.

Square 8

The Felt Squares were completed this past fall at the MacDowell Colony, where I met Amy Ellingson. They are 17.5" x17.5" and material is wool felt with a 3.5" x3.5" square window cut out and filled with stacked cotton fabric, felt, and Baltic Birch plywood.

Square 8 is Baltic Birch plywood, wool felt, and graphite powder. It measures 18"x18". It is part of a series that was in my show, Material Sequence that opened in October 2010. in Marfa, Texas at Galleri Urbane.

Fabric Stack 8 is starched cotton fabric that I cut and stack on an armature. It measures 12"x6"x3". 

What is your current work about? do you have photos you're willing to share on my blog?

My current work negotiates a balance between formal abstraction and material exploration. Formally I am interested in line and I look for line in my materials whether it is in plywood or the edge of a piece of fabric. Because materiality is important to me, my work often has a lot of texture and density, which is emphasized by the repetitive working methods I use like stacking and layering. I am also interested in quiet, minimal work. I am always trying to figure out how to say the most with the smallest gesture.

Felt Square 8

Felt Square 8, Detail

What is your workspace like?
My studio is a room in my house. It is very small but has incredible light. I hope to have a bigger studio someday, but I am grateful for the convenience of working in my home.

How do you develop a sense of community with other artists, and how do you support your art colleagues?
I feel a huge sense of community when I attend artist residencies. It is incredibly inspiring to be surrounded by artists working in many different mediums, from places across the country, making their creative lives work. It is heartening to not feel alone in this path and to know there are many ways of doing it. I have also collaborated with two other artists and close friends, Lee Running and Tatiana Ginsberg. Working together over the course of two years on this project, Kind Favor, Kind Letter, has taught me a lot and helped me maintain a creative connection with artists I respect and admire that are working in different places.

Felt Square 1

Felt Square 1 detail

Do you ever get stuck with your work and how do you remedy this?
Absolutely. When I am stuck I often find I am trying to jump ahead in my work rather than make the next thing I am ready to make. I think there is an internal timeline and rhythm of the work and it is important to listen to that. It is easy to get impatient with that process and get lost. When I give myself permission to just make my work from where I am at that point in time (not getting caught up in trying make the best, biggest thing I have ever made) I have a profound sense of relief.

Do you have particular habits that you think support your art practice? I am drawn to practices, creative and otherwise, that are about being trying to present in any given moment. I am a terrible multi-tasker. I have a regular yoga practice. I read a lot. I try to spend a lot of time outside hiking or in the garden. I have found that practicing doing things mindfully, with intention, feeds my art practice in a profound way.

Do you have other jobs other than making art?
I have had a lot of different jobs over the years: waitressing, bartending, retail, landscaping. Right now I am teaching a Mixed Media Sculpture class at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design. Teaching is very challenging but it keeps me engaged and I find it very rewarding. It is never boring. I also work in a yoga studio, which connects me to a wonderful community here in Santa Fe.

Where would you like to be in 5 years as far as your art making?
Just working in the studio everyday. That would be wonderful.

Do you have any upcoming shows that you'd like to mention?
I am in a show opening in March at The Harwood Museum in Taos, New Mexico called, Mexorado. It is a group show of artists living and working in the Albuquerque-Denver corridor.

You can see more of Kate's work on her website.
Thanks Kate!


Debu Barve said...

Very nice interview, thanks. Loved kate's work!

Munira said...

Very interesting work, visually calming yet engages you deeply. Thank you again Lynette for your ongoing pieces. I love reading them. Often wonder how you discover your artists.

LynetteH said...

Thank you for reading, Debu and Munira. I often ask artists who are interviewed for recommendations. Enjoy!

Nancy Natale said...

I like this work a lot, especially Fabric Stack 8. I'm sure that seeing the work in person makes a big difference because it's hard to appreciate the materiality of the felt in virtual space. I like the fact that the felt is used as wood might be instead of as a textile. Very nice work and interesting thoughts! Thanks for your interview Kate and Lynette.

LynetteH said...

Nancy, this piece interests me too. I really would like to see it in person. Maybe next year! As always, thanks for following my blog.