Monday, September 23, 2013

Kat Singer (Part Two): The Senn of Art

This is part two of an interview with Twin Ports artist Kathryn Senn, a.k.a. Kat Singer.

EN: Did you have any formal training? If so, what kind?

KS: Really, no. I took the usual primary/secondary/college classes, but artistic technique and media is evolving all the time. Polymer clay (along with HTML programming) wasn't even invented when I was a student. I was a Psych Major. Did you want fries with that?

EN: What are some of the media you work in? Do you have a favorite?

KS: I like designing soundscapes. I have a little studio devoted to engineering recordings of songs I write with my husband and another long-time bandmate, so this leads me directly to engineering the audio sound effects and mock commercials for the Twin Ports Stage radio production of "Twin Ports". (It's hard not to call an ensemble production like that a favorite!) I enjoy building websites and HTML programming, and digital graphic art comes along with that, which leads directly to the creation of some nicely decoupaged altered trinket boxes. Decoupage has been a favorite fascination of mine for a while now, and testing it's limits amuses me. I decoupaged the foundation of my house for goodness sakes... along with the usual assortment of plates, cookie tins, and tabletops. (How can you not love an art where the vast majority of your supplies come right from the local hardware store?). Polymer clay became an interest initially because there isn't a kiln required, so, you know, I'm obviously a sucker for "easy access" artistic endeavors, and if Richard Dreyfuss can sculpt a mountain out of mashed potatoes... well then, the sky's the limit, right? But, mixed media/found object/repurposed work is where my heart is at these days, and mixing media to take trompe l'oeil to the next level is by far my favorite kind of creative expression.

EN: You also paint… How long have you painted and how would you describe your style?

KS: I'm a cheater. I paint only because I have found no better way to handle light sources in the more two dimensional stuff that goes on canvas (or tagboard, or other flat surfaces meant for hanging over the sofa.) I will happily glue dryer lint to get texture on some part of some piece that calls for texture, but I still need to paint in the play of light light that allows me to push a certain perspective over the dryer lint. I will eagerly decoupage an image I want to incorporate into an overall work, and then use paint to blend the colors and shade the whole. I will amuse myself affixing found objects onto a canvas and then use paint to try to create precise, (and precisely incorrect), shadows in order to deliberately mess with the perspective.

 I think I can safely describe my style of painting as "happy accident". I experiment a lot with brush strokes, and blending, and color, because I'm not schooled or skilled enough to adhere to the rules of any given technique, I'm still free to find satisfaction in whatever works for whatever I'm working on at the moment. This doesn't mean I'm not in absolute awe of representational artists who can make something so breathtakingly photo-realistic that you can't help but suspect Kodak is somewhere there in the mix. I am. Absolutely in awe. I'm just not that skilled. I have to do whatever works to make it look as close to what I originally had in mind as I can... and then I need to stop before I muck it up. Yeah... my whole painting style is all about "cheating".

EN: Where do you sell your work?

KS: I have only recently begun to think about monetizing my work because money isn't a very good motivator for me (hence the career in civil service), but, I am drawn to art shows and craft tables for the opportunity to see what other artists are doing... get inspired by that... and have the fun of learning from others with shared interests... and the more I get inspired the more I try to make... and the more I make... the more I need to find a destination for it... "sales" does seem to be the generally accepted route, and even though I have absolutely no objection to placing an objective value on my time and effort, in a very protective way I think cash is a slippery yardstick for artists. If I give someone a painting in exchange for x dollars ... tomorrow they have the painting, but I have x dollars minus the impact of inflation... and the day after tomorrow I have even less. The only time I get jazzed about the "business" end of it all is when I can work out a barter exchange. When someone wants to trade something of theirs for something I made, the next day we will both still have exactly what we traded for without the built-in value erosion of currency.

Don't get me wrong. Cash is king in our culture, and money is what pays the bills. But, you are interviewing an artist... not a merchant. I don't want to spend more time managing than making. I believe this is why art galleries exist, and I am greatly encouraged by the way some local galleries are opening themselves up to the whole benefit of operating as collectives. It isn't enough for me to just set up a table where there are likely customers, so I'm more inclined toward participation in events that include some community element. North Central Windows Program sponsors a local Festival that contributes to their efforts working with survivors of sexual assault and abuse; the Umbrella Cloud Festival incorporates community art projects and access to art for children as a part of the event. It's more motivating to be a merchant for a good cause. I would love to see a "collective" storefront established here in the Twin Ports, where artists could pool their resources... share a till, and a bookkeeper, and all the other infrastructure/overhead that it takes to effectively monetize the art created here... you know... without sucking the soul out of the artists in the process.

EN: Thank you, Kat.

No comments: