Saturday, February 25, 2012

Artist Snapshot: Kate Bowen

Kate Bowen: "It's easy to become a slave to your artist statement. I think it is just as important to chase mystery & see where it takes you."

1. When did you first get involved with the art world? 

I got involved in the arts in college.  I started with the intent of being pre-med and I took classes in the art and theater departments because I had heard that a diverse education would make me a more desirable applicant when it came time to apply to medical school.  Secretly, I just wanted to continue taking art and theater classes after high school and “diversifying my education” was an excuse to do so.  I grew up in Eagle, Idaho and everyone in my family is an engineer so a career in the arts wasn’t really on my radar.  I bounced around a lot before I gave in and became a full time art student.  I basically tried to quadruple major in photo, print-making, drawing and art history.  One of my professors had to tell me that it was time to graduate and move on to bigger things.
I was really involved with the arts community in Idaho, but the “art world” seemed really distant until I moved to Chicago.  I went to Columbia College for grad school and worked for the Museum of Contemporary Photography as a curatorial assistant, which is when I started to have a broader understanding of what the term “art world” meant.  

2. What is your preferred medium? 

I hold a BFA and MFA in photography, so it’s safe to say I’m partial to the medium of photography.  I use photography, video and performance in my work most often.    

3. How would you describe your work? 

I am motivated by a deep curiosity about the way people attempt to understand and articulate their own desires.  The obsessive and relentless qualities present in the concepts of desire and longing that gets addressed in a number of different ways in my work.  My current project, Almost Always Getting it Right, is situated in my hometown of Eagle, Idaho and centered on longing for perfection, which is absorbing and as such, oppressive.  This year marks the 10th anniversary of the perfect season of football at my high school, which is the only perfect season played by any team in the conference to date.  Perfection, in this place, is found in broken records and physical ability.  Beauty is a long run to the end zone or a perfectly executed routine.  Sensuality is a pom pom that runs the length of the thigh and is followed by ahead flip when it reaches its destination.  All of which is surrounded by a wide-open landscape that meets mountain ranges that hold you in, and protect these ideals and values. When I am making work I am looking for the things and people that are still in a process of becoming, or moving on.  I like to think about the optimism of a cheerleading routine and the frustration of attempting to recapture greatness.   

4. What upcoming projects are you working on? 

Almost Always Getting it Right is a relatively new project and I plan to continue working on it for a while longer.  I particularly like to continue working with the cheerleaders, they are really wonderful to watch, and I want to work with some of the other football stars from my high school.  I have also renewed my fascination with sports aphorisms and clich├ęs in general while working on this project, which is where several of my titles come from.  It’s a way of soothing ones own disappointment with a security blanket of words, so I might try to work with some of these phrases more. 

5. Where do you see your art going after you receive your MFA? 

I received my MFA this last May.  The working process for the post MFA period is a strange one.  It feels very exciting, energetic and lonely at the same time.  One of the more surprising things that I have discovered after grad school is that it feels good not to have all the answers, all the time.  Depending on your program, you get used to talking about your work at length and being able to answer every possible question that may come up about your work.  While I do believe this is good practice, it is easy to become a slave to your artist statement. I think it is just as important to chase mystery and see where it takes you.

Don't forget to check out Almost Always Getting it Right TOMORROW from 4-8 PM. 

Amanda B.

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