Last night in front of a crowd of *asterICT donors and patrons of NakedCity Gallery, Kathryn Van Steennuyse gave a stunning presentation on the evolution of her painting process and the systems that influence her aesthetics. Guests gathered in the NakedCity Gallery at 6:00 PM for refreshments and a sneak peak at Kathryn’s new show, Immaculate Canvas. At 6:30 PM the presentation began and covered influences, systems, decision-making processes, color choices, and of course the conversation about this immaculate new body of work.
It was amazing to see the progression of styles over the course of Kathryn’s career in this casual talkback where we the listener were invited to, and often did, ask questions about Kate’s work and learn more about how her abstract pieces came to be. Notably, was the idea of decision-making and the process in which people interact with things around them. One of the many processes discussed was how Kathryn uses decision-making contemplation to advance her paintings along; She paints a line or an area, pauses, waits for her gut reaction on what to do next, and then instead of acting on that reaction she debates it. She fights her instinct to “make it pretty” and instead observes the space around the mark she has made and looks for how the next piece may interact with it. Her early work was based on systems, sometimes quite literally when she would paint on top of antique atlases, and now she has evolved to create systems of her own. Where lines intersect or collide from this new decision-making process creates opportunities to build new exciting things that would not have been seen before had she acted on her gut reaction. She thinks of her pieces as slightly awkward things in the world…something that the viewer simply has to experience and try to figure out. What is this thing? Do I like it? She went on to say that, “often the reaction of not liking something is stronger than liking something.” This idea of experiencing her works is what is most exciting to her as an artist and intriguing as a viewer. I know from experience with her work, they are odd little creatures that grow on you.
For me, the first time I saw one of the more sculptural pieces in this show I was turned off by it. What is this thing? Why is it so awkward? Why is it not stretched or framed? I moved on to pieces in the show I was more comfortable with. Then I returned to it and started finding things I liked about it…a lot of things…more than my initial dislike. Now? It is my favorite piece. I feel like I developed a relationship with it and I’ve come to understand it better. As Kathryn said last night, “It’s like you are popping into a conversation I am having with the painting.” I caught a snipit of her conversation with his piece and it was awkwardly gorgeous.
The overlying thing I took from the talk last night was that I should never try to “read” a painting. With Kathryn’s work, I find it is best to analyze yourself as you look at her work. What does this make me think of? How does this make me feel? What is this thing? Eventually I come to the same conclusion; I am a being in the world and so are these works of art…like them or love them, we are both here and we are interacting with each other. As an interactive new media dork…that idea makes me feel good down to the core. Kate’s work is gorgeous, sensual, awkward, inviting, and contemplative. They are simply amazing to look at because you are looking at yourself…and you are always changing as a person so these works are never done evolving.
-Ryan W. Gates
Immaculate Canvas will be on display at the NakedCity Gallery in Wichita through May 25, 2012. The show opens…
Friday, April 6th
NakedCity Gallery – 121 North Mead St. – Wichita, KS 67211 – (316) 992-4545
Please join Kathryn at NakedCity for this opening as well as the debut performance of the visiting artist series *asterICT which will feature performances by acclaimed mezzo-soprano Jennifer Beattie and pianist, Adam Marks.