Interview with Kate Lewis

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Neoteric Art: Give us a little history on yourself.

Kate Lewis: I grew up on a farm in TN surrounded by land and family. Now, I’m a southern girl in a big city. My husband and I have been married for 5 years and we have a one-year-old daughter. Family is the center of my life. Art have always been a part of who I am. And, I have the award I received at the age of one from the local county fair to prove it.

NA: Your previous series “Colorful Collaborations” are assembled 3-D collage type pieces while currently you are working in a more traditional sense using acrylic on canvas. Discuss your process for these two different approaches.

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KL: The process for creating the collaborative, abstract pieces was very instinctual. I gathered lots and lots of random materials to sew and glue together. I used raw canvas, found cardboard, rope, paper, plastic, foam, and fabric; painted them, and pieced everything together.

The work I am creating now is traditional and in great contrast to the collaborative, abstract pieces. I scour interior design magazines and books in a somewhat compulsive way to collect images. The pictures include seemingly perfect interiors of living rooms and kitchens. I use parts or all of these images as inspiration for my paintings.

As I reflect on these two bodies of work, I can’t talk about the process of making the work without speaking about what was happening in my life at the times I was/am making the work.

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The collaborative, abstract body of work was created while I was pregnant. The process of making the work had a lot to do with how being pregnant affected me. The act of getting pregnant was not an easy one and it took many years. When I did get pregnant, I let everything out through my artwork. Meaning, I grabbed almost any material around and incorporated it into a piece. I was full of energy and inspiration; wonder and worry. I was energized and that is how the work was created. As a result, my studio was always a mess. I was going through the alley to look for materials to incorporate into the work. It was an exciting time.

After giving birth last summer, my life changed to say the least. I had a beautiful, healthy baby girl. And, I struggled for several months to discover how this little being was going to be incorporated into my life as an artist. At first, I spent many hours in my studio watching her, feeding her, and worrying that she was disturbing my studio neighbors. I attempted to continue making my collaborative pieces. However, it didn’t feel right. I felt that I had completed that series and that it was time to move on. And, I did. I began making quiet portraits of her and now I am creating these small, controlled interiors.

kate-3.jpgNA: Discuss your current two series “Portraits” and “Interiors”.

KL: Both of these series are an outlet for me to express my curiosities. The “Portrait” series is really based on the fact that once Sadie entered my studio, I could not focus on anything but her. Therefore, I decided to paint her.

Interiors are a fixation. I love, love, love decorating magazines and beautifully constructed rooms. They take me into my dream world. I am peaceful when I paint these. They are charming, delicate, small (for the most part), and very manageable, unlike many other things in my life. I have this desire to escape into my work right now, and these little vignettes allow me to do that. I am happy when I think about these rooms. I want to be the people that live there. However, notice that I don’t paint anyone in the rooms. I don’t want to taint the rooms with people and their issues. I want the rooms to remain perfect. Maybe I should paint plastic covers on all of the furniture. Just kidding. That would totally ruin them too.

NA: You recently became a mother. Did having a child change the way you viewed your own work?

KL: Yes. Having a child made me much more aware of why I was making what I was making before she was born. I realized that my work was centered on becoming and being a mother. That was shocking to me.

Now, I know or think I know that my work is still about that but it’s also about finding beauty, peace and about nesting.

kate-1.jpgNA: Which artists living or dead have influenced your work?

KL: Here are a few, and I discover and rediscover influences everyday: Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro, David Hockney, Richard Tuttle, Elizabeth Murray, Georgia O’Keeffe, Peter Doig, Laura Owens, Lee Bontecou, Louis Bourgeois, Marlene Dumas, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Elizabeth Peyton, and the list goes on…

NA: Concerning your art career, where would you like to be 10 years from now?

KL: Making art that I am very confident and proud of with my family connected and close by. I would like to be shown in galleries and museums on a regular basis. That would signify that people are connecting with my work. Ultimately, that’s what I desire.

www.katelewisart.com