Our exhibit, “Animalia”, features the work of 3-dimensional artists Ryan Lytle and Katherine Maloney. This week we’ll take you into the studio of Katherine Maloney and get to know her, and her work, a little bit better.
AoM: Where did you grow up?
KM: I grew up on my family’s organic farm in Tidewater Virginia surrounded by rivers, marshes, and a lush diversity of plants and wildlife. I’ve traveled and lived other places but still call the farm home and is where I currently have a studio.
AoM: How and when did you first know you wanted to be an artist or artisan?
KM: A big part of my upbringing was being homeschooled and therefor having time to pursue my own interests. I have always made art of some kind, as a child I drew pictures, played outside, made miniature sculptures with polymer clay and later apprenticed with a potter. After I graduated from college with a B.A degree, I immediately set up a simple studio and began supplementing my income with selling pottery. Whenever people ask me this question my genuine response is that I never made the decision, it just happened. Most integral to my ambitions for pursuing the life of an artisan, has been the support of my family and mentors who are all creative dreamers and entrepreneurs.
AoM: What are the biggest sources of inspiration for your work?
KM: Nature and Travel.
Observing wildlife and the natural environment is a big part of my inspiration and I often focus on animals which I have some connection to, such as where I have lived and traveled. By sculpting the animals realistically I hope to remind my audience to consider the creatures who inhabit increasingly vulnerable landscapes.
Many of my forms and particular animals are inspired by traveling in Southwest China, Japan, and within the U.S. As an artist I consider myself a visual translator for what I observe and experience in the world, including my own interpretation of art made by people from all cultures and eras. I feel very fortunate to have been able to travel and hope to keep doing so!
AoM: Tell us a little bit about your creation process.
KM: I often start by doing a simple sketch and look at photographs of the animals I’m working to represent. The time involved to create a new design depends on how clear my idea is and how detailed and technical I want to make the piece. Most of my work is begun on the throwing wheel, then I sculpt the animals to either integrate or be symbiotic with the thrown form. When I’m making a new animal I often take my time to figure out the correct proportions and the preferred emotion for it to evoke. After construction, pieces are fired once, painted and sprayed with my own formulated glazes, then fired a second time. With the many steps involved, it can often take a few weeks to a couple months to get a new design from start to completion.
AoM: Do you ever hope that your work will evoke a certain response from the people who interact with it?
KM: I want my art to encourage personal memories about people’s connection to particular animals and landscapes. My hope is the emotion of nostalgia can lead to introspection about the ways in which we are living as humans in this current moment on the earth. I also intentionally focus on beauty as an important element of my work. I want the animals to be beautiful, regal, honored, and gracefully integrated with the vessel. In this way, I hope for my art to bring joy into people’s homes where the animals are storytellers about our collective experience as life forms sharing landscapes.