Artist Kate McAmon recently spoke at St. Mary's advising art students on the process of going on art residencies and how they can affect your personal artistic style. While she was only a recent graduate from school herself and I initially questioned why I was listening to someone just a few years older than myself who had yet to do anything truly noteworthy, I ended up enjoying her lecture and watching how her art changed and matured dramatically over the course of just a few years.
The first few pieces she showed us were portrait images of herself and her twin brother, and while they showed that she was clearly talented and trying to achieve a unique look for her pieces, they came off as relatively unplanned and messy. When I first saw them I began to regret attending the talk because in my opinion there is nothing worse than listening to someone talk about art that you don't like, especially when it does not even have a concept you find interesting. Luckily she next told us that she worked with narrative oil painter Odd Nerdrum in Norway working on her narrative imagery and attempting to find a balance in her portrayal of the human figure. Nerdrum had a heavy influence on her work and coming out of this first residency her pieces appeared far smoother and more grounded in reality while retaining an inner light and fairytale feel.
Her next residency brought her to Italy where she moved away from her original style completely, choosing to reject the human figure in favor for creating images echoing the scenes of Italy that surrounded her. Her favorite thing to recreate were images of hanging laundry on balconies of homes. She liked the idea of the hanging laundry telling a story about the person who owned them without having to include an actual image of the person themselves.
After she graduated from MICA she returned to her family home to work. She currently is teaching art lessons to students of all ages and working on a new theme in her artwork. Her most recent work uses old photo negatives and recreates them into beautiful small paintings. Changing the size, concept and overall look of her work shows how comfortable she has become in experimenting with her style.
This lecture ended up being an enjoyable lesson in how a person should always try to get as many different experiences and come across as many different opinions on how something should be done in order to make themselves as skilled as possible in what they want to do. This was nice because it was able to applied to a wide range of interests and not only applicable to people who wanted to work in studio art.