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Katina Huston - Artist Statement
Katagami and Me, A Brief Statement on Influence by Katina Huston
In a review by Kenneth Baker in the San Francisco Chronicle this spring it was noted that my work showed an influence from antique Asian art. Little did he know
Artist Statement 2012
My goal is to make the invisible tangible, even dimensional. The ways in which humans organize their experiences—more specifically, how I organize my experiences into knowledge—is the focus of this work. Sometimes meaning is revealed through events, sometimes meaning is imposed. Capturing shadows documents experience defined in memory from the unique perspective of the person watching.
The shadow drawings began as research on this subject. I sought to collect visual by- products of human experience. Once collected, they could be examined and organized in search of their meaning. I wanted to literally peel the shadows up off the ground using mylar as a substrate. I imagined dozens of rubbery car shadows stacked like pancakes.
One day on the street I saw three crippled bicycles chained to a post. Missing seats and one front wheel bent in half*. In the morning light, it cast a strange and brilliant shadow, so I captured the image in ink.
Bicycle shadows became my primary subject. Over the past six years, this focus has worked into a whole range of abstract compositions. Weirdly, whole bikes become figurative. But, grouped together, they convey a sense of motion and become almost playful.
In this process, technique grows richer. Ink is three-dimensional. As I lay down two thin lines, the lines create borders that can be filled like a pool or channel. While wet, each new line that meets it becomes a tributary. Inks that are light in color have a greater physical density so when a light line meets a dark pool the light evacuates the area bleaching its path. Layering new images on old, the new line washes away its predecessor.
The resulting drawings use twenty shades of ink on Mylar focusing on mechanical elements repeated from several angles to create a complex and mysterious whole. Thus, six-foot drawings of shadows of bicycles made from ink pooled, poured and drawn into familiar yet elusive forms also speaks of geological experience. Liquid ink evaporates, leaving rings of a drying lakebed. Multiple inks create unexpected moments of physics where heavy ink pushes light back, bleaching the pool to white. In other instances, puddles flow to low ground creating random wells of darkness, which then shatter when dry. Fine draftsmanship magnifies the tension between control and chance.
The shadow drawings are interesting from a conceptual viewpoint not because they are of shadows or bikes but because they represent very physical engagement with these materials and tools and document the effort of me chasing shadows. Moments of effort include crawling over the mylar, scratches, spills, a creased corner, gouges from tumbling bikes. They mark the field...and they should.
In my most recent works, I play between organized and chaotic compositions examining the ways in which lining up the shadows in clean order results in a straight forward inventory. When piled up the same objects become an ominous heap. Others organized in radiating circles become sources of visual energy.
In works like “Dissemble,” I remove a section from a composition and show it separately. All of the drama carries, but none of the context. Beyond bicycles, new elements like chairs, chandeliers, trees, and Cyclone fence shadows are new starting points for my drawings.