Briefly describe the work you do.
I explore material through the making of objects. Currently the materials that interest me most are wood, especially Baltic Birch plywood, and wool felt. I create pieces where these two materials co-exist together, support each other to create a unified whole.
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.
I was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska. It is a very beautiful, extreme, and remote place to grow up. When you leave Alaska it is called “going outside.” I knew from a very early age that I wanted to “go outside” and live and experience other places. I have always been drawn to intense landscapes ever since I left Alaska. I lived on the coast of Maine, in rural Iowa, and now I live in the high desert in Santa Fe, New Mexico. These kinds of landscapes are all different but they have a spacious quality that I find soothing. I also think that living in spaciousness was part of the development of my aesthetic. I want to leave space in my work for things to occur. Though my work is abstract, I want to make things that feel expansive like those landscapes. I am always looking for the small, simple gesture that speaks clearly, meaningfully. I am continually learning how to be brave enough to say the least amount, with the largest impact in my work.
The concept of the “artist studio” has a broad range of meanings, especially in contemporary practice. The idea of the artist toiling away alone in a room may not necessarily reflect what many artists do from day to day anymore. Describe your studio practice and how it differs from (or is the same as) traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
I built my own studio in my backyard. It was designed by an architect friend, Gail Peter Borden, I met on a residency at the MacDowell Colony. With his plans, I built the building with a contractor over the course of eight months. It is one of my biggest accomplishments. I love having access to my work in my daily life. The studio opens onto a deck and is surrounded by my garden. I sit out there a lot watching birds, looking at the plants, daydreaming. Those peaceful in-between moments have become an important part of the way I work. My studio practice depends on what part of my process that I am in. If I am trying to generate new ideas I might be better off taking a hike to clear my head or writing. If I am in the production phase I am alone working in my studio as much as possible.
What unique roles do you see yourself as the artist playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
That I would be continually gaining and developing technical skills, learning how to use tools and new equipment, and problem solving.
When do you find is the best time of day to make art? Do you have time set aside every day, every week or do you just work whenever you can?
Mid-morning works well for me. 10-4 is a perfect studio workday. I have never worked well at night for some reason. I generally try to have dedicated studio days each week and then just work whenever I can on the other days, even if it is just an hour.
How has your work changed in the last five years? How is it the same?
In the past five years I have fallen in love with wood. I love the transformation of a rough board into a buttery smooth surface. I love the grain, the laminated lines in plywood. Because of working predominantly with wood my craftsmanship has improved and I have learned a lot. With practice and experience I have gotten more skilled. I have also learned how to ask for technical help when I need it.
My ideas and thought process have stayed the same. I am still looking for connections between materials. I am still following line. I am still trying to balance opposites.
Are there people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers or even pop icons that have had an impact on the work you do?
A lot of people have had an impact on my work. I am fortunate to have a supportive family and friends. But the most consistent impact comes from my partner Jenny. She is a poet, which gives her a wonderfully different perspective. She has seen my work develop over the years and I trust her opinion. I show her everything I make as I am making it until it is finished. She has an intimate knowledge of my creative process and I am grateful for her thoughtful feedback and steady encouragement.
Agnes Martin. Eva Hesse. Dorthea Rockburne. Sheila Hicks. Anne Truitt. Richard Tuttle. Catherine Opie. Ruth Osawa. Charles and Ray Eames. Anni Albers. Alain de Botton. Max Ritcher. Eileen Myles. And probably many others I am forgetting!
If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why?
A Yoga teacher. I would love to make people feel good in a direct way.
Kate Carr was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska. She graduated from Marlboro College in Marlboro, Vermont and received an MFA in sculpture from the University of Iowa in 2005. She has completed residencies at the Vermont Studio Center, the Harwood Museum, Jentel, the MacDowell Colony, and the Ucross Foundation. She is also a recipient of a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant. Kate has lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico since 2007. Her work explores material relationships through repetition, juxtaposition, and contemplation. Kate shows her work in Dallas, Texas at Galleri Urbane and in New York City at Garvey Simon Art Access.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.