Weeks ago I somehow ended up on a website featuring Kate MacDowell’s work, porcelain sculptures that I loved at first glance.
As usual I googled her, found her website, spent the afternoon looking at her work, while preparing my e-mail.
She answered very kindly, saying she’ll answer my questions. I was really eager to learn about her, and when her answers arrived, I was gladly surprised to realize she had answered truly and deeply to every question, talking about her environment, her work, her message, and sharing her visions and thought very honnestly.
But before reading about her, check out a few of her artworks that I personally admire, my favorites and if you want to see more, check out her website. Look at how intricate the details are and keep in mind that it was hand made, each piece, alone. Look for the message conveyed in each piece, the power of plain white, and the strenght of her titles. Well I could spend a lot of time talking about each piece aside, but I’m not going to bore you now… So get to know her and come share your thoughts.
In The Hand 2
First And Last Breath
In an attempt to set a frame
Where are you from ?
I grew up in Ohio and North Carolina.
Where are you based ?
What is your educational background ?
I have a Masters in teaching English Literature (high school level)
Where are you and what is surrounding you right now?
In my office, um… surrounding are prints of Mughal paintings from India, a rug from Iran, a bookshelf full of mysteries set in ancient Rome, and windows overlooking a rainy fall backyard.
What did you do in the past twenty-four hours?
Caught up with a lot of work email, picked tomatoes and greens from the garden, went out drinking, joined a twitter party in listening together to a funk playlist on Spotify.
As an introduction to her work
As far as you can go, what is your earliest memory linked to art?
Creating ceramic horses in elementary school and elaborate sock puppets.
What, or who, pushed you into art?
No one did really, my family and teachers were proud of my achievements when they happened, but more often than not encouraged me to pursue academics or other careers.
What is your definition of art?
An attempt to capture the indescribable.
What is your definition of beauty?
Honesty without brutality
Which is more important the process or the product?
It depends on the piece.
About her work
How would you describe your work?
Fragile looking white porcelain objects that pair natural beauty with the macabre or grotesque. They often have figurative and animal elements, and explore environmental issues. My work is often tragic and occasionally humorous.
What part of your work is the most important?
For me, the underlying environmental issue spurs me to make the work, but once it’s made it’s up to the viewer to determine.
Where do you find inspiration?
Environmental case studies based on online reading about threatened species, people’s snapshots of road-kill up on the web, contemporary artwork I come across online.
What kind of artistic expression do you look at for inspiration?
Baroque marble tomb sculptures and the work of Bernini, the work of lots of contemporary photographers, magical realism in movies such as Pan’s Labyrinth.
What kind of artists do you look up to?
A variety, Gregory Crewdson, Andy Goldsworthy, Goya, a lot of lesser known contemporary artists working today.
Who are the people you want to reach with your work?
Anyone and everyone who feels a connection to the natural world.
Are creative collaborations important to you?
I haven’t really done them as a professional artist much yet.
So far, what was your most interesting collaboration ?
Working with a photographer on documenting my “clay pigeons” installation and explosions.
Do you have any favorite artwork so far ? Which one ?
Bernini’s Daphne and Apollo is one of my favorites.
About her career
What satisfies you? When do you consider something achieved?
When I have taken an artistic risk or gone in a new direction and it pays off.
What, or who, has been the greatest influence on your career ?
My first teacher of ceramic sculpture, Roxanne Jackson.
What, or who, is the motor of your career ?
Deadlines, they keep me moving forward and get me restarted when I lose momentum.
What are your future plans, your next step ?
More work involving installations, and some experimentation with color used for dramatic effect.
If I could I’d buy straightaway the whole Quiet As A Mouse installation, or Persephone. There’s something to them that really attracts me, what are your favorites ? Do you have any questions ? Any reaction ? I and most certainly Kate would love to know how you feel towards these creations.