The idea of folding, whether a piece of paper or an article of clothing, is perhaps associated with making more compact or manageable. And perhaps that's one way of looking at the work of Kat Schneider, whose latest work has utilized the fold as one means of addressing dialogue and communication, not a small part of which has much to do with what is not communicated, or what is hidden just beneath the part that we can see. Here she shares some thoughts around this topic, as well as a pretty damn good choice for an ideal coffee date!
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First, can you tell me about yourself? Where are you from, and where are you based now?
I was born 'n raised on the Jersey Shore, and I'm still based in New Jersey. Jersey gets a bad rap, but I don't mind it here!
I went to Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, where my concentration was photography, and I've been out of school for about a year and a half now. I currently work as a bindery assistant at Conveyor Arts.
What first interested you in pursuing art?
I think I always knew that I would pursue art, even as a pretty young kid. My dad draws and paints, so I think he encouraged that.
Your work combines elements of painting, drawing, and sculpture, which sometimes takes on an installation quality. Where do you find the ideas for your pieces?
Most of my ideas come from looking at household furniture and how they are placed within the structure of a room, and how they interact or correspond with other furniture and domestic objects in the same space. Looking at my work, it's probably not a surprise that I especially like to look at drapes, blinds, and folded laundry for ideas, ha.
Your practice is interested in the experience of human communication. How do you approach this in your work?
I'm only slightly joking when I say that I create my work around the fact that I have a lot of difficulty verbally communicating how I approach the idea of experience in human communication. Luckily, I get to type things out here instead of talking, so maybe I can make a little more sense out of things.
I've been working a lot with folds, and a fold is a visible sign of an absence. We know something's underneath, but we can't see it and we don't know what it is. We can make guesses, or infer from visible parts of the image, but we can't be sure. This is similar to human communication because, to put it as simply as I can, sometimes what we say is not always what we mean. Even if we think that we're being clear and concise, there is always the possibility that we will be misunderstood. Arranging a specific pattern of consonants and vowels into a structure that perfectly represents what you're trying to convey is difficult, and it's even harder with the immediacy of conversation.
How important are the titles to your works?
I think the titles can give the viewer a nudge in the right direction to what I was thinking when making each object, but every individual interpretation becomes its own unique experience, which I guess is the point of titles in general, right?
Most of the titles come from dialogue in Michelangelo Antonioni's films, which I guess is kind of ironic because most of the dialogue in his films literally does not contribute to the plot of the movie. It's just talking for the sake of talking.
What is your process like? How do you get started on a new piece?
A lot of times I sketch out ideas for structures and a specific pattern for folding, though the final piece isn't usually exactly like my sketch. That's probably because I'm not the best at perfect craftsmanship...
The drawings and images in my work are usually based off of film stills, or sometimes I use personal and old family photos. I keep files of those different kinds of images on my computer, and I'll pull from there depending on what idea I'm going for specifically.
I'd say every piece is half planned and half intuitive. Much like communication! (Get it? haha...)
Can you describe your studio? How much time do you typically spend there?
I don't have a formal studio space right now. I designated one of the walls in my bedroom as a studio wall, and I clear out space in my garage to build structures that are too big for my tiny bedroom. I'd like to use a different space for a studio soon, mostly because I think I need a little separation and space to breathe from what I'm working on. I don't particularly enjoy staring at a half-finished piece when I'm trying to sleep...
What do you find to be the most difficult or challenging aspect of pursuing art seriously?
Making time in general to work on art. It's hard to not just automatically lie on the couch and watch Netflix after getting home from work.
What does the word "success" mean to you as an artist?
I guess "success" means making work that I'm actually happy with. It's hard not to be super critical with myself.
And I think it's important to me to keep showing work or at least keep consistently putting it out into the world in some way.
What is the most rewarding aspect of doing what you do? Is there a moment of accomplishment you're particularly proud of?
A lot of my work is site-specific, so I think I feel the most accomplished after I've installed everything and can step back and all of the work as a whole. It's rare that I feel rewarded after finishing a single piece.
If you could grab coffee or a beer with anyone, living or dead, and ask them anything, who would it be and what would you ask them?
America's Sweetheart: Tom Hanks. I'd ask him to reenact scenes from You've Got Mail With Me. I know that this question deserves a better answer, but this is what I'm gonna go with.
Do you have any upcoming exhibitions or projects?
I recently had a pop-up exhibition in NYC, and another one will be in the works soon, though no solid date yet!
I'm lucky enough to work at a book bindery, and so I'm about to start making my own book. It's going to be more of an art object that hopefully reflects my larger-scale artwork.
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