Briefly describe the work you do.
I explore feminine aesthetics, traditions and narratives through mediums that most fit the subject and my ideas, which are usually oil, cross stitch embroidery or screenprinting. I also run a website called, www.TheFeministBride.com that has inspired most of my recent paintings focusing on wedding and marriage traditions.
I’m interested in the complicated and didactic psychology associated with these seemingly romantic and joyous celebrations. My work aims to touch upon socially constructed, gendered identities and their subsequent inequalities. This is where my research into the social impacts takes root and within each custom I investigate issues such as vanity, consumerism, sex, identity, the gaze and the spectacle. These themes, including the work’s feminist grounding, are purposely subtle, much like modern sexism.
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.
My most influential background experience includes being a beleaguered bridesmaid. I discovered my amazing lack of talent for weddings as my friends began walking down the aisle. Several injuries, one wedding party expulsion, too many bridal showers, not enough bachelorette parties and one spouse later, I began researching wedding and marriage tradition’s history, comparing it to contemporary lifestyles and then creating more egalitarian solutions. I decided to put all this towards a website I started called, TheFeministBride.com and a book that is now represented by Carol Mann Literary Agency in New York City.
In addition to complications in women’s culture, I was often the lone woman in many male-dominated spheres. My undergraduate college was only 30% women and there I was the only female thrower and captain on the Track and Field varsity team. I then spent five years in wealth asset management where women probably made up 10% of the workforce. Being isolated in these environments really instigated my feminism and my belief in “leaning in” before Sheryl Sandberg even coined the term. I don’t think I would be creating socially driven, feminist work had I not had these two impactful experiences.
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.”
As a cross-stitcher, my process is completely unorthodox. The best location for it is actually on the couch, lounging, with my elbows propped up by pillows for support. The downside to stitching hours on end is that it’s left me with a lot of tendonitis in my shoulders and elbows, so the more support I get, the less painful my art practice is. I also have to watch TV while stitching. The small stitches I make are miniscule and constantly changing my eye focus (from art to TV) prevents eyestrain so I can work longer. Few would assume that cross-stitching is so physically demanding. I’ve been working this way since I was 10, so despite having the TV on, I’m quite efficient and diligent at it.
As a painter, I would say my practice is pretty standard. What I listen to as inspiration is probably the most important aspect in creating artwork, I’m either listening to my favorite women artists or podcasts that aren’t afraid to tackle heavy current events or personal stories. I tend to be extremely quiet and focused when I’m working.
Your favorite place to hang out in your studio
My favorite place to hang out at the studio is probably across the street at The Bell House in Gowanus. It has the most creative musical, artistic, comedic and storytelling performances and talent in the area. I’ve seen The Moth, Andy Daly, Women of Letters and lots more there. It’s also just a cool place to hang. When you’ve logged a long day at the studio, it’s a great place to go to refresh your creativity with different types of art.
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?
I never thought I’d be making art with the intention of creating social awareness and change. Now that I am, I can’t imagine making art without a message or simply art for art sake. I find depicting issues I’m passionate about to be completely rewarding.
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?
I alternate between painting, writing and stitching days or some combo of them. I tend to write best in the mornings with my cup of coffee and prefer painting in the afternoon when I’m ready to switch creative muscles. I’m always working on something throughout the entire day until I go to bed. It’s a work ethic my parents’ instilled in me; though the downside to that is I feel pretty guilty/lost when I’m not working on something. I think I enjoy cross stitching in the winter the best though, it’s a great excuse to stay indoors where it’s warm and make art.
How has your work changed in the last five years? How is it the same?
Having always loved landscapes, I never thought I’d be painting figures or patterns. As I’ve become much more interested in social issues over the years, it’s about finding visual forms and other semiotics to support my overarching subjects. What has remained the same is that I am constantly drawn to exploring and depicting dichotomies. For example, as it relates to wedding, I want to explore how can a ritual be both instructed and predetermined but uniquely special? How can a special moment be intimate and romantic but incredibly publicized and performed? Or how can even participating in the institution of marriage be selfless but simultaneously selfish, greedy but altruistically giving?
There are two sides to everything and as an artist I want to explore each. There’s this unspoken pressure on artists to have a definitive viewpoint, to communicate to the viewer an absolute. The “grey area” in an artwork or subject is much more interesting to me. When it comes to addressing social issues, I prefer taking a much more bipartisan approach; to me, it’s more productive.
Are there people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers or even pop icons that have had an impact on the work you do?
Coming from Boston as a painter, it’s almost impossible to not be inspired by John Singer Sargent. More modern artists that explore women’s issues or culture and art history would have to be Swoon, Mickalene Thomas, Lisa Yuskavage, Elaine Reichek, The Guerrilla Girls, Kara Walker, etc. For writer’s and pop icons, I’m extremely interested in those who can brooch tough or intellectual subjects but with a personal wit like Bill Bryson, Joel Stein, Jessica Valenti and Tina Fey.
If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why?
I’m extremely excited to be an artist, writer and feminist, but if nothing else I would be a professional explorer or traveler. Ever since attending Semester at Sea in college, travel is a crucial part of my life. I’m even writing this from Alaska as we speak.
Katrina Majkut (My’kit) is a research-based artist dedicated to understanding and exploring feminine narratives in aesthetics, media, history and personal experiences, with a particular specialization in marriage and wedding traditions.
Majkut is an active presence in art institutions that are eager to address women’s issues and marriage equality through art. She exhibits internationally. She was most recently chosen as a finalist for the International Museum of Women’s collaboration with the Global Fund for Women #EqualityIs media project. A sample of upcoming and recent exhibits include the Lincoln Arts Project, MA; University of Maine, Farmington; showing alongside the Guerrilla Girls at the Arc Gallery (San Francisco); The Visual Studies Workshop; University of North Carolina, Wilmington; Stonehill College and The University of Alberta, Canada. Her lectures cover topics such as the future of marriage, choice feminism, patronymics and the history of the wedding cake. Her MFA thesis, Center of Attention received a feature article from Boston Magazine and her cross-stitch artworks were recently reviewed in Art New England Magazine. Majkut’s work just recently joined the art collection at Dana Farber. (http://www.dana-farber.org)
Majkut holds a B.S. in Business Administration from Babson College, Wellesley, Mass., and a Post-baccalaureate certificate and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston/Tufts University. She also founded the website, http://www.TheFeministBride.com that inspired her artistic topics. Her writing on The Feminist Bride is now represented by the Carol Mann Agency in New York City.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.