Studio artist Kate MacNeil graduated from the College of Charleston with a BA in Studio Art, emphasizing in Drawing and Printmaking. Kate joined Redux in the Fall of 2011, and has quickly become an asset to the Redux community with her amazing talents, humor and dedication to her practice. She recently took the time to let us interview her (cause she’s cool like that) and here’s what she had to say.
Did you always know you wanted to be an artist? No way. I spent most of my childhood thinking I was going to be a misionary, and most of high school believing I would be the next great American writer.
What Inspires you? I love books. I try to read as much as possible. I just finished Jane Eyre and am rereading Catcher in the Rye, and now I’m on to Jurassic Park and Anna Karenina. I think that storytelling and fantasy keep the imagination alive.
“Dandelion I” by Kate MacNeil, Ink and watercolor on canvas, 2012
Where did you grow up? This is, unfortunately, a loaded question for me. I’ve lived in eight states, have moved well over twenty times in my life. So to keep it simple: I grew up in the Mid-West, and have spent the last ten years in the Charleston area.
Tell us about your new seriers, The Afterlives. I’m currently working on a series of still lives acting as personal memorials. I have a lot of internal conflict regarding my disbelief in the existence of an afterlife, and my personal longing for those in my life who have passed. That’s what a lot of my artwork is portraying: those quiet struggles between life and death, fantasy and reality. I find solace in studying the dried flowers I’ve collected over the years. I think those flowers are the perfect metaphor for life and death. They are beautiful, frozen in time – like our memories – but ultimately dead. The afterlives.
In the past, your work was figurative and explored the human condition by freezing intense emotion by using strong lines, high contrast and a limited color palette. Your new series seems to be more about the traces of human life and reflects subtle, psychological undertones. What motivated this transition in your work? I’ve always been a big fan of both Gregori Morandi and Wayne Thiebaud, and I took a lot of inspiration from their work. I wanted to take on the challenge of portraying human emotion through inanimate objects. It’s a really great concept to play with, and I have endless source material (i.e. dried flowers, collected containers, etc.). I’m also still working on some of the figurative pieces. I put a lot of planning and research into my work, and I’m still building a body of sketches for that series. I hope to go back to it when I’m finished with the “Afterlives” later this year.
Super hero, Kate, at the gates of Gotham City
What super power would you like to have and why? I’m still convinced I’m going to be Batman when I grow up.
Favorite medium? Why? Is there one you haven’t explored yet but would like to? Ink washes are a blast. They can be subtle and soft, or mind-blowingly messy. There is so much emotion that can be portrayed with an ink wash. A medium that I would like to work with, but haven’t yet had the chance, is stone lithography.
What do you love about being a part of Redux? I love the commuity. Having a constant art force around me is inspiring. It’s so great to have a sounding board to bounce ideas off of, and having a respected group of artists to receive feedback from. Redux is the perfect institution to harbor creativity and growth.
Future goals? I want to attend graduate school at some point, but until then I’m content making art at Redux. Oh, and I think I already mentioned becoming Batman when I grow up….
Kate MacNeil, Untitled, Oil on panel, 2012
You can see more of her work on her new website or follow her blog. Thanks, Kate!