March 2018 Artist Interview
Stephie Kate has worked as an apprentice goldsmith, a blacksmith/steel fabricator, an assistant glassblower, and an educator. After finishing her MFA at Cranbrook Academy of Art, Stephie moved into a residency program with STARworks Glass Lab in Star, North Carolina.
Stephie Kate draws from a range of sources for inspiration but most recently she has been re-engaging with a favorite material process, glassblowing, in order to evolve the body-centric work she developed in graduate school.
At what point in your life did you know that you wanted to become an artist? Did the realization emerge slowly?
I was really young when I began working in the arts and the realization that I wanted to pursue it as a career came to me over time as I developed a strong passion for the feeling you get when creating as well as a lasting interest in the unique aspects of visual communication.
How did you evolve your style and favorite mediums?
My style and medium exploration are the direct result of my interest in the metaphors I am exploring with skin. The technique I have developed with tissue paper and the application of other materials such as blown glass, ceramics, and sugar glass are all the result of my thoughts and research into the resilience of skin and the metaphors for human existence that can be found within a simple scar. In one way or another, my material choices respond much in the way that skin does. I had a moment of discovery in the studio where the paper I was applying to my work responded to the atmosphere around it, and like skin, began to slack and tighten based on the moisture in the air. This moment of seeming “breath” in the work fascinates me and brings me closer to my original exploration on skin as the site that we experience each other and where our emotions can be most clearly understood.
What are your time management techniques? Do you have regular working hours...or favorite times to work?
I find it crucial to set a goal for working hours and schedule other things around studio time. It is very easy to get caught up in one event after another and lose studio time as a result. It is critical to create a space in which you can create separate from distractions. You must also plan to be in that space without social media or cell phones nearby. I often turn my phone off so that I can be present with my work and myself. I prefer to work in the early morning so that I can get into a mindset and have the day to explore that mindset.
Do you work on more than one piece at a time, or primarily just on one?
I tend to work on multiple pieces at once. This allows me to keep working when I come to a point of indecision on a piece. I often need to sit with the work longer than a day once I get stuck to determine if the work needs more development or if it has reached conclusion. I never put a piece away, they are always out, around me as I move from one to another so that I can “keep an eye on it” and allow it to impact me as I think through other ideas.
What would you say is your biggest influence -- that which keeps you working, regardless of all else, your most steadfast motivation?
My motivation to work comes from my interest in the idea behind the work and the revelation of those thoughts within a material or treatment that describes my mindset in a visual capacity. Creating artwork is like developing a language. As you search to express your thoughts, your thoughts deepen and your understanding of the exploration becomes stronger as you hunt for the moments in which your thoughts emerge.
Does trying something new and not knowing the rules -- the boundary pushing -- create anxiety or excitement in you? (Or both?)
Any time that you take a risk, it is both exciting and a bit overwhelming. When I was in Graduate school at Cranbrook Academy of Art as I worked on a piece I would be concerned that it may not be going anywhere. I would be unsure about the work for a considerable portion of the creation of it. It was not until about 80% of the work was complete that I would start to see something in it. As I continue to work beyond school, the feeling of risk is shifting into a feeling of exploration and I no longer have trouble trusting the process. I understand that as I create, the answers to my questions and the exploration of those questions will be fruitful. Anxiety is shifting into trust and excitement for the process of exploring my own visual language. I think of the pieces I create as questions and the process as exploration.
Do you enjoy having the "duality of both chaos and control" or are you happiest with a set plan?
I can function well with chaos or control and at times one is necessary over the other. I think of myself as enjoying order and planning but that control is often mitigated, disrupted, and challenged by chaos. For me, the duality must exist in order for both to be truly understood.
Do you have any projects or events forthcoming?
I was recently featured in Art Reveal Magazine’s 29th Edition as well as Expose Art Magazine’s Next Generation Edition. I am currently completing an exciting new body of work using ceramics and stabilized sugar glass which I am hoping to debut in New York soon.
You can find more information about the artist at her website https://www.stephiekate.com/
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
3’ x 3’ x 4’ 2013 Sugar glass, steel, tissue paper
24” x 36” 2016 Print Image
6’ x 6’ x 1’ 2015 Blown glass, steel, tissue paper, birch wood