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Kate Vrijmoet
What excites you about providing a visual prompt for Medicine Ball: Playwrights v. Poets?

What excites me is my audience’s reaction to my work. I use the tools of classical painting to provoke emotions in my audience they might more often associate with theater. I feel that great paintings can be engulfing and involving. My aim is an extremely high impact experience for the viewer. Many of the deepest and most unusual experiences of all kinds in art are only available because the artist has led you to them through emotions that are provocative but, at least at first, acceptable.

In addition to theatre, poetry stirs me, and the poetry component of Medicine Ball attracts me. In my water painting series, the Non-ordinary Reality series, all of the titles come from poetry. In many cases, poetry is meant to be read aloud, it’s aural. In the water paintings the water represents the physical manifestation of the aural. I feel connected to poetry because poetry, like fine art, reminds us we’re human, we’re connected, and we’re like each other.
 

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Table Saw Accident, Latex on canvas
What is your aesthetic? What are some things you’re trying to accomplish with your art at the moment?

My mission has always been to set the stage for the audience to have an experience they might not otherwise have. They bring themselves and their past experiences with which to interpret that new circumstance. I take pleasure in making discoveries and learning. The deepest satisfaction I receive is in sharing my work. The work I create is not a painting—it’s an experience, even when the physical form manifests as a painting.

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Forgetting/Remembering
When did you first discover your love of visual art?

My love of visual art rolled out in stages. When I was still in the single digits I realized I was an artist and I had the mission I describe above. But then began decades of angst and frustration as I learned my craft. The drama went on for many years with brief episodes of reprieve, for example; in the 6th grade when I came across Joan Miro’s work, I didn’t feel so solitary. Creating any kind of art is a tumultuous process punctuated by creative highs and lows while facing your performance fears. 

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Skydiving Zombies, latex on canvas,
Can you tell us a bit about the piece we are using for this event? What was the inspiration? What do you hope the writers capture in reference in the piece?


I think great paintings can be engulfing and great paintings can be funny. In the zombie series I use humor to connect to the audience. I hope the writers capture the humor through the juxtaposition of the absurd and the mundane. 

The zombie thing is about consciousness. Zombie culture asks the question, “What is self?” This obsession with zombie stuff is partly about people’s fear of not being conscious in their lives; fear of plague, fear of death, fear of anarchy…and the disastrous possibilities that follow. It’s fear that the apocalypse has already happened to us that we’ve lost our awareness—that we’re sleepwalking. Some scholars today are talking about the rise of zombie culture as a backlash to the financial crisis. I think it may have more to do with the way we interact with our media vs. how much time we spend connected to physical reality.

The CDC even got into the act. It posted a blog item on what to do if the dead rise and eat the living (in 2011). Apparently the post went viral quickly and their server crashed. They followed up by releasing ”
Zombie Preparedness 101,” to educate readers on how to prepare for a zombie attack-which BTW is the same as preparing for a natural disaster.

 I once heard someone say in a radio interview that you need one of two things to get through life, a sense of humor or a sense of self. I’ve always relied heavily on humor to function professionally and personally. My zombie series combines my paradigm with the idea of consciousness in contemporary culture. They’re humorous because I place the zombies in real world scenarios.

If anything would shock people out of their everyday existence, Skydiving would. But for my zombies, it would just be fatal because they can’t pull the ripcord.

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I've been here all my life, still I'm somewhere else, Oil on canvas
What work are you most proud of? Why?

In a strictly creative sense, I’m most proud of moments and pieces. Philosopher Gilles Deleuze said that first you make your hand subservient to your eye so that then you can make your eye subservient to your hand. The moments in paint that give me great satisfaction are when the years of learning to see, a lifelong pursuit, yield happy accidents on the surface, when surrendering to the process and detaching from the results, getting out of the way, allows for flow and produces surprising results. Rhythm, weight, and
movement magically come together.

Painter and social artist Kate Vrijmoet lives and works in Seattle, WA. She received her MFA from Syracuse University. Her paintings and installations focus on the human body and the human condition, and on issues of consciousness, boundaries, and access. Vrijmoet was one of 16 American artists participating in the 2012 5th Beijing International Biennial. Her sound installation, Mother May I…?  was awarded Best Installation in the Brooklyn Wide Open exhibit by Charlotta Kotik, Curator Emerita Brooklyn Museum of Art. And it was exhibited at Orange County Center on Contemporary Art–a show endorsed by Nicolas Bourriaud. Vrijmoet has exhibited in shows juried by curators of the Met (Anne Strauss) and the Guggenheim (Nat Trotman). She received 3rd Prize in 2010 Ecuador Biennial. Her work has been published in New American Paintings, The Seattle Times, Catapult Magazine and in 2010, CoCA Seattle published a 42-page catalog for her solo show, Kate Vrijmoet: Essential Gestures. Upcoming exhibitions include a two-person show scheduled at Linda Hodges Gallery in February 2014, and an exhibit on Destigmatizing Mental Illness in the City Hall Annex in Seattle.

More at
www.katevrijmoet.com


 


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