Briefly describe the work you do.
Currently I am working on a series of large scale still life photographic artworks that are constructed from many layered photographs of cheap consumer goods (candy, dime store trinkets, cellophane, etc).
Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and on you as an artist.
I have a large extended family, and they have played a huge role in who I am as a human and the artwork that I am interested in making.
The concept of the artist studio has a broad range of meanings in contemporary practice. Artists may spend much of their time in the actual studio, or they may spend very little time in it. Tell us about your individual studio practice and how it differs from or is the same as traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
My process and relationship the the studio changes depending on the project I am working on. For the project I am currently working on I find myself rotating between three studio spaces and modes of working. One part of the process takes place in a very open and sterile lighting studio. This part is very intuitive – I arrange objects on a white background, photograph them, and discard them. Another part of the process takes place on my cluttered desktop computer where I stitch/composite images together. This portion is much more messy, and is about trial and error, evaluation, reworking and finding balance. And lastly, there is the step of printing the work, which takes place in an organized communal lab. This work is much more structured, formulaic and direct. These three modes and studio spaces comprise a mentally balanced whole.
What roles do you find yourself playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
This is a good question because I think that an active studio practice takes you in so many unexpected directions. Buts let’s see… a few things that I never envisioned becoming well versed in… scavenging materials, burying dishes in sand and other fine particulates, freezing liquids, pyrotechnics, X-acto knife skills, fixing tools and cameras, rigging cameras and lights to boom arms, general MacGyvery, listening to books on tape for days, promoting and publicity, collaborating with other artists, and many, many other things that I never really considered prior to the moment that they were necessary.
When do you find is the best time to make art? Do you set aside a specific time everyday or do you have to work whenever time allows?
I have a day job as an art educator, so there is little time during the school year make artwork. That said I do think it is important for me to do a little bit each day or week while I am teaching. During the school year I try to fit in small increments of my studio practice such as drawing in a sketchbook, researching an idea, scheduling a photoshoot, preparing materials, etc. Otherwise I strongly rely on large blocks of free studio time during the summer or other school breaks to get fully immersed in a project.
How has your work changed in the past five years? How is it the same?
I would say that in the last five years my works has slowly shifted from being very focused on the self and examining the past to becoming more outward looking and concerned with the future.
How have people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?
Wow… this is such a tough questions because I feel like so many personal relationships, authors, artists, media, conversations, etc influence my work in so many conscious and subconscious ways. Recently I am on a kick of reading and watching environmental and outer space themed science fiction and enjoying trying to envision possible futures of our existence on this planet. This has certainly influenced my recent work.
Have you ever been pulled in the direction of a pursuit other than being an artist? What are your other interests?
I used to work on a flower farm – picking flowers, arranging flowers, creating things. I loved it and I miss it. I think that I learned a lot about aesthetics and form from working with flowers, and it always reminded me of making artwork. But, there is something nice about how temporary their existence is. You would spend all this time making a beautiful arrangement knowing that it was going to completely fall apart in a few days time. The work was so much about the process and enjoying the moment.
Kathleen Hawkes is a visual artist who creates photographs, drawings and digital works. Hawkes was born in Ithaca, New York. She received her BFA from Cornell University and her MFA from the University of New Mexico. In 2012 Hawkes received a Fulbright to pursue a photographic project in Fiji. Hawkes is an Assistant Professor of Photography at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse and resides in Winona, Minnesota.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.