Monday, December 10, 2012

Following the Material: Kate Johnson

Author: Victoria Saccomagno (OVAC Intern)
Kate Johnson, Dreamscapes: Good Luck, Bad Luck, 19x16x9”,
Crocheted and felted cotton rope, wool and string, 2012
There is a kind of comfort and surreal nature to Tulsa artist Kate Johnson’s Dreamscape pieces. She has created five woven and crocheted forms; none with any recognizable shape or inclination. They are all created with half-inch cotton rope and various crochet techniques; the pieces truly form themselves as they are not premeditated shapes. Rather, they are as clouds; taking an unexpected shape from a series of spontaneous movements. Johnson told me a bit about how she came to work with these materials and to what point her process is allowed to operate independently from her design of the piece.

Q: Can you tell me a bit about the evolution of the materials you use in your work? Do you think your media will continue to evolve, or are you content in what you work with now?
KJ: The fiber work that I’m doing now evolved out of the work I was doing in Grad school. I was casting a lot of different fiber elements in clay slip - everything from clothing to small recliners. That work was all very representational. After finishing a large-scale clay installation I had the desire to explore fiber on its own, which is what led me to making the Dreamscape series. I am enjoying this series, but I expect the work to continue to evolve and change with each new piece.
Kate Johnson, Dreamscapes: You’ll Never Know, Dear, 22x22x2”,
Crochet, cotton rope, wool and string, 2012
Q: What would you say has been the biggest influence on your work so far?
KJ: I think it is sometimes difficult to trace influence, but there is one particular experience in my life that I can say, for sure, has directly influenced my work. I saw my first fiber art show when I was interning in New York back in 2007. I was aware of the fiber art movement at the time, but it was my first experience up close and personal. I remember feeling like an entirely new world of possibilities had just opened up. I was energized and inspired by almost everything I encountered in the gallery.
Kate Johnson, Dreamscapes: Hit Like a Bullet, 25x20x4”,
Crocheted and felted, cotton rope, wool and string, 2012
Q: Where does your technical process start? Is the idea in your head before you begin, or do you start with your hands?
KJ: It usually starts with the material itself. The material tends to dictate what direction my hands will go and from there I end up with a raw form. With the Dreamscape series, I knew what size and general aesthetic I wanted, but the shapes were created spontaneously. I usually think I know what direction the shape will hang on the wall, but I almost always end up turning it upside-down or even completely flipping it over to what was originally the backside. At that point I start to carefully plan where the smaller details go and where I will deconstruct or add additional material.

The Concept/OK: Art in Oklahoma exhibition opens December 16, 1-5 pm at the new Tulsa Arts and Humanities Council’s Hardesty Arts Center. See for more information. 

1 comment:

Jeanette House said...

I know Kate's Mum's work but had no idea she had such a talented daughter! What lovely work - really interesting and unique. I think my favourite is the second piece shown here; I love the organic shape and the looseness of the detail at the bottom. Just lovely - great post, thank you!