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Six of the Best: Part 37

Part 37 of an interview series in which artists reply to the same six questions. Today's respondent is artist Kate Ingold, whose work encompasses media as diverse as poetry, photography, and object-making. She is currently in the process of relocating from Chicago to Los Angeles; however, people in the midwest can see her work soon at Perry Farm, in Bourbonnais, IL, in collaboration with artist Joanne Aono.

fabric art recycled art kate ingold
 “The relatively brief preponderance of moments,” antique mourning quilt embroidered with real platinum thread, wool batting, 69” x 69” approx., 2015

PH: What medium/media do you chiefly use, and why?

KI: I consider myself a multi-disciplinary artist, but I suppose my primary medium is photography because I often start each project by making photographs. I print my photographs one time only and then treat them as substrates for drawings by tearing, scratching, sewing, and in other ways manipulating their surfaces. I also work in textiles (old and new), video, collage, and occasionally I write poems, either to go with the visual work or to stand alone.

Why photography? It’s a way for me to visually explore an idea. Often I find myself photographing one particular thing (like little repairs on buildings, for instance) and then I begin to build a body of work off of that interest. I take a lot of photographs. Sometimes I wait a decade or longer before I use a photograph in a series or project. I often go back and look at my photographs when I’m crafting a new series, or I’ll go back and look over them when I remember a photograph that I think will work with a current project. Every now and then I actually have the discipline to go through them and get rid of the absolutely awful ones, but mostly I save them. I just started going through some of my old film photographs (I’ve shot digital exclusively since 2003 or so) and realized that I shot 35 rolls of film on a trip to Thailand in 1994. Ridiculous! I have well over 20,000 images in my Photos app on my computer.

PH: What piece are you currently working on?

KI: My current project/series is “Damaged Goods/Small Repairs,” which so far includes scratched photographs and discarded, hand sewn quilts that I’m mending or embellishing with gold, platinum, and wool thread. I’m finishing up an elaborate quilt piece tentatively called “Night Quilt” and have just begun working on one inspired by Agnes Martin’s painting, Friendship. It’s a horribly damaged quilt that I’m covering with real 24k gold thread. I’m also scratching concentric circles into photographs. I’ve got ideas for a video or two for this series as well and have made a dozen or so collages from beauty and travel magazines from 1989 and 1990, a year that I traveled to Europe. I write poems with the text from the magazines and match the words with images from the magazines. They’re really fun to make.

altered photograph digital art kate ingold
“Head, Floor,” scratched drawing on archival inkjet photograph, 9” x 12,” 2016

PH: What creative surprises are happening in the current work?

KI: I’m coming up with more ideas than I have time to execute. All of my work is really time and attention intensive. I practice Zen and I’ve been surprised how many ideas I’m getting that are in answer to that practice and/or the history of Zen. I hope I have time to make two in particular this year. Both involve quilts and gold leaf and reference Hideyoshi’s Golden Tea Room.

PH: What other artistic medium (or non-artistic activity) feeds your creative process?

KI: Reading, cooking, and practicing Zen all feed my creative process. I read a lot of poetry and nonfiction. Rebecca Solnit’s books have influenced my thinking a lot the past couple of years, particularly The River of Shadows, an incredible look at Eadweard Muybridge and the expansion of the railroad west, and A Field Guide to Getting Lost, in which Solnit weaves in Yves Klein and his blue into an exceptional book about meandering and the unknown. I’m also in love with Brandon Shimoda’s new book of poems, Evening Oracle. The past few months I’ve joined the rest of the country in reading one political screed after another. It’s amazing how much time I’ve lost to political diatribes since the presidential election began.

collage photography fine art kate ingold
 “Many Years Later,” image/text collage made from vintage TV Guides (1968-1982) and scotch tape, 7” x 7” approx., 2011-12

: What's the first ever piece of art you remember making?

KI: I drew portraits my whole childhood. I think the oldest one my mom has is one I drew of her when I was 6. It’s ridiculous and huge and colorful and I have her wearing the giant bauble earrings that dangle down to her shoulders. Yet I think it’s rather spectacular! In high school I’d stay up all night listening to music and drawing portraits of my favorite dead movie stars, like Marilyn Monroe and James Dean.

PH: Finally, and you can answer this in any way that's meaningful to you: why are you an artist?

KI: My husband’s an archaeologist so I go to a lot of archaeology-themed lectures and events. A few years ago at the Field Museum, Bill Parkinson gave a lecture on his work in a Greek cave and talked about how the presence of art is one of the primary ways that archaeologists determine if an ancient site is human or not. Crows make and use tools, as did some of our pre-human ancestors. But art? That’s pretty much a people thing. So it’s a deeply human expression and though it’s a clichĂ© to say it, it’s one of the things that gives us sustenance. I’m the daughter of a painter so I’ve been exposed to art and art-making my whole life. I’ve always felt that making art is one of the most important things a human being can do. While I’ve always had to make money doing something else, I’ve always made art and expect I always will. Sometimes I make artfully useful things (like blankets and clothes) but mostly I make art that has no non-art purpose. What else is there to do?

If you liked this interview, and you'd like to keep up to date with the series, why not Subscribe, or sign-up via Google Connect, using one of the options over on the right? Thanks, and keep creating.

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