On The Playground
- Growing up Katie was always the kid in school that was drawing in a notebook when she got the chance. In high school Katie was lucky to have a few teachers mentor her and introduce her to a community of artists in the Trenton area.
- Katie's family was also artistic as her grandfather was a water colorist and her grandmother loved the work of Andrew Wyeth who was a realist painter. During the holidays Katie would ask for papers and painting materials to continue to learn and practice.
Making a Move
- After high school Katie chose to study art at Mason Gross at Rutgers as opposed to an art school in New York or Philadelphia. At the time Katie felt that it would be very overwhelming for her and glad she decided to stay within New Jersey.
- She entered the Painting program at Mason Gross and was introduced to more conceptual ways of thinking and developing work. It took Katie up until her thesis year of the program to really let go of more formal ideas such as portraiture and work more abstractly.
- One of the best parts of the program that Katie enjoyed the most was that students were encouraged to take courses outside of their focus. This allowed her to learn about printmaking, video, and sculpture and would help further develop the way she approached making work.
- One professor stands out when Katie thinks back to her time at Mason Gross and that was Raphael Ortiz. Professor Ortiz would push students to try and open their minds to different ways of thinking.
- Katie knew after graduating the program she did not want to go to graduate school. She had studied alongside artist Stephen Westfall who would encourage her to look into programs but Katie had decided that she would move to Brooklyn and figure things out along the way.
- Katie moved to Brooklyn and found a job within a few months as a manager at a fabrication studio. Over the next year Katie would meet so many artists through the studio and work on personal projects in her apartment.
- Katie eventually stepped away from the manager position to focus on developing a studio practice and producing more work. She took a risk by taking one less day of work to allow herself to concentrate more on her practice.
Developing a Creative Community
- After settling into her studio practice Katie began to yearn for the community she once had in school. The ability to have conversations with other artists and share feedback with each other.
- Katie would coordinate a number of gallery exhibitions and invite various artists that she admired to also show work. She also hosted events in her neighborhood where friends and other creatives could share work in progress.
Creating and Performing
- In 2018 and in previous years Katie has performed in Art in Odd Places which is an annual festival along 14th Street in Manhattan presenting visual and performance art in unexpected public places. This year's theme was Body and was curated by artist Katya Grokhovsky
- One of Katie's recent series is centered around FOMO or the fear of missing out. It was something that she had worked on briefly during school but moved onto other ideas at the time and recently has revisited the work to further explore it's potential.
When She isn't in the Studio
- Katie notes that she is obsessed with her work and even outside of her studio she continues to create. However she does enjoy reading. When she isn't working on paintings she is writing proposals for either curatorial projects or residencies.
Favorite Neighborhood Galleries
- Katie is currently living in the East Village and loves to visit a few galleries to see the exhibitions and learn about new artists. Some of her favorites include The Hole, Turn Gallery, and Freight and Volume.
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Jon: So, we're in your studio today and it's great to see all the work that you know all the work in progress and all the pieces that you have hanging here. That didn't happen overnight and I think I'm really excited to kind of chat with you a little bit about that. Having known each other for a little bit I actually know very little about before I met you in school. Could you tell me about whom was Katie Hector growing up?
Katie: I've always been the kid on the playground OR in school that was like drawing incessantly in my notebook. But I think really 16 was the age in which I had a couple good mentors in high school during our class. That took me in and opened me up to a community of artists outside of school. So, it was this community of Trenton based artists that had their own initiative, had their own mission, their own studio practices. So, as a 16 year old to have all these you know professional artists kind of show me the ropes in a little way—
Jon: Take you under their wing.
Katie: Totally they really involved me on a lot of different levels and made sure that I was present and felt included in everything and shows in organizing different events. So, if I were to trace it back to something specific I would say probably when I was 16.
Jon: You're originally from New Jersey as well.
Jon: So, you grew up in Trenton or--?
Katie: I grew up Lawrenceville New Jersey. So, I guess we're the most known for the Lawrenceville school, but it's like a little suburb right in between like Princeton Trenton.
Jon: What were some of the pieces of art that stood out to you if you can remember as a kid you know what we're what were you looking at?
Katie: I mean oh-my-gosh. I had a grandmother that she loved Andrew Wyeth a bunch.
Jon: What was his work?
Katie: His style, oh-my-gosh I can't I can't remember what state he grew up in, but it was more north and he came from there a couple of generations of Wyeth artists and each one had their own style. I think the grandfather was like an illustrator. The son did these kind of morbid I don't know more reflective scenes either portraits or landscapes or figurative work. Then the son his son was kind of more of in the line of pop art so some of Andy Warhol's crew.
Jon: Were there any kind of hints as to being interested in painting or photography or anything like that that you start to think about when you were younger?
Katie: I think I've always been a painter. I think maybe a drawer at times when I couldn't paint so luckily and my grandfather was a water colorist. So, growing up I had a lot of exposure to materials and—
Jon: Different mediums not just Crayola Crayons.
Katie: Yes. I mean it was still very much that, but also it was also really nice every holiday wish list was always just like give me paper give me art supplies let's go to AC Moore.
Jon: Sure. Michaels became very familiar to me as a kid as well.
Katie: Totally it was like Playland. That was kind of the childhood introduction.
Jon: You went on to continue studying art and fine arts after high school. As a kid coming out of high school you kind have all of this pressure to apply to colleges and continue to look around. At that point you can kind of be overwhelmed. Was there anything that you had in mind going from high school? Obviously you knew that you wanted to continue studying, but did you have a certain thought of where you wanted to go?
Katie: It was a really interesting to end up at not end up, but to go to Rutgers. All throughout high school I was very much a portrait painter and was doing representational and figurative work. So, I didn't know whether I wanted to go to an academy and really kind of sure up those skills that I had already been developing. Rutgers is such a beautiful interesting place because they taught you fundamentals, but it was definitely more of a conceptual school which on a lot of levels I didn't have any knowledge of what that was like going into it.
Jon: Yes I agree because and it's very much about the thinking and the process and not so much the actual execution. I don't want to say not so much about the execution, but what that comes out to be the medium that it's used is really open-ended whereas the idea is really the kind of product.
Katie: Yes I would say it there's a there's a priority ranking. So, the concept is definitely the priority and your career is to find that find that medium that matches your concept.
Jon: Were there any other schools that you were considering before you landed at Rutgers?
Katie: I think I considered a couple somewhere in the city. I guess growing up in New Jersey there are two options seemingly in terms of bigger cities. So, it's either Philadelphia or New York. As an 18 year old I knew I wasn't ready to move to New York City. I was very scared of it in a way.
Katie: Yes. I was like oh this is this is going to be a lot if I move here so I avoided that but I knew that Philly wasn't the right place either necessarily. I'm really happy that that I did go to Rutgers and definitely that program as well.
Jon: You entered the program and you kind of mentioned already that it was very conceptual and something that you never really I guess imagined walking into. I think going into school you kind of have this idea you're going to learn to hone your skills as a painter and more foundational stuff.
Jon: How did that change you over time you know from when you entered to when you left?
Katie: Well I think I held out for awhile. Even on the bike ride over here this morning I was thinking back to a conversation I had with Mark Handelman in which I was just what a 19 year old or something like that. I had sold some work in high school and had gotten a decent amount of money from selling and I felt really good about it and that was like portraiture and things that are more accessible for people. I remember talking to him about how there was a market for artists that were under 18 or something and just like laughing this morning about how naive that could possibly sound. What does it what does that even mean and if I was a professor now hearing that like what would my reaction be? I feel like it took me a number of years to in that same way as like um the things that you're familiar with. So, it is portraiture, the things that are validated selling artwork, things that are more acceptable and moving away from that with a conceptual education into things that are more abstract or more interdisciplinary. It takes a long time and it's kind of—
Jon: Not only let go, but be comfortable with the idea that you're not necessarily doing traditional practices.
Katie: It's a weird new territory and so you feel it's this constant like put your left foot in take your left foot out kind of thing, but eventually you just find out whatever suits you. So, for me it took me until thesis year to really let go of portraiture or figuration as I knew it and just start working more formally which I've done ever since.
Jon: The program is four years so it wasn't until after three of those that you actually decided not necessarily decided but kind of came to grips and started understanding somewhat of the teachings that have been from the past three years.
Katie: Yes it took a while and I took a lot of different influences as well. Part of the program that I really liked was you weren't just a painter or you weren't just in one department. So, I took printmaking, video classes and some of the foundational courses were very interdisciplinary. So, that part of the education I think is so incredibly valid and valuable and has definitely transcended into my practice now.
Jon: What are some of the things that you kind of remember as a student that stand out to you that you still remember to this day?
Katie: Of course everyone has their stories about like that one professor. So, for me I really feel like that was Rafael Ortiz. I don't know if you ever took a class with him.
Katie: I think he's still there but amazing artist, thinker, and teacher as well. But I think a lot of students leaving home, coming into an institution, being pumped full of all this information they have no idea what to do with potentially found him quite abrasive and hard to—
Jon: Uncomfortable with.
Katie: Yes. It probably felt like he was yelling at people, but in reality he was just trying to like open their brains little 18 years-old brains.
Jon: Think outside of what they’re normally used to every day.
Katie: Totally and I remember being in his class and very quickly realizing that one to not take things personally that he's not getting paid to—
Jon: Make you cry and get upset—
Katie: Yes pick little kids apart he's obviously trying to impart something. So once you get past that first cloud it's just like okay so let me really pay attention to what he's saying and what he's doing and why and how. That was one of the fundamental courses I said that was very interdisciplinary so we had some type of rendering or making and process in the class. But we were mostly taught just different ways of thinking of color and material. Like you're saying most of the time it looked awful. The final product was not visually appealing.
Jon: It wasn’t a masterpiece every time.
Katie: It was the opposite it was very clumsy for us to have to do this, but in terms of learning and imparting another way to think I think that class is really successful.
Jon: You kind of mentioned this and I'm glad you did because it just kind of hit me as well I think one of the biggest takeaways that I had was not necessarily taking feedback or critiques so personal. I think I've gone to Rutgers once maybe you're twice here and therefore kind of reviews and stuff like that. Even just working everyday with other designers it's hard because some people take any kind of feedback very critically and personal. That's kind of something that you need to separate yourself with in a sense because otherwise you're almost hurting yourself and working within a bubble.
Katie: You're fighting against it tied essentially. And so not to get too philosophical, but the whole you're always going to change and you're always hopefully welcoming that change on some level so to do so professionally is just an extension of that. I think I was particularly prone to not be offended and to be able to kind of hear things for what they were as opposed to—
Jon: Putting up walls immediately. Defending yourself quickly it's almost like your instinct that you have to do that.
Katie: Yes. If anything I definitely lack that instinct and so whenever somebody says something I immediately feel pretty empathetic and say like, “Oh why does this person feel this way?” So, I really try and like jump into their skin and see what they're seeing and kind of have that as the take away from it.
Jon: I think that's also naturally you as well you're very kind and as you said empathetic.
Jon: When we met in school I kind of got that from you on the feedback and critiques of work and stuff like that. I kind of want to get your take on this and this is something I've heard a lot and just conversation and listening to other kind of creative lectures and things like that where the idea that creativity is something that you're born with versus something that you learn. I'm kind of torn because I think there's a little bit of truth to both.
Jon: I'm curious as to some of your ideas about it.
Katie: Well it's that whole in terms of psychology nature versus nurture basis and so it will always be a cross-section of both. In terms of my personal experience being an artist and being a creative there's something that you're born with and it's not like a beautiful gift it's not like something that's like romantic or it's an ability to just observe and I translate in a different way.
Jon: I think it was like a curiosity.
Katie: Absolutely it is total curiosity. Like I say it's not a good thing because I don't feel like most of the world is set up to or at least in terms of the United States is set up to really embrace that and a lot of what being a creative is to go against a grain or to go against something that's normal. I remember in elementary school I would just get in trouble. Like I was never a bad kid but like I would always just get in trouble in school for doing different things. It would be for like asking too many questions or like redirecting a field trip to something that I wanted to look at or it's not an overt testing the boundaries, but you're impulsively doing that or instinctually doing that. So, I think there is a level of some people do that more naturally than others.
Jon: Thinking back to even when you're as small as a kid the ones that are asking the most questions sometimes are immediately shut down.
Jon: It's kind of nice hearing that,
Katie: Yes. I think it's just you know it's more of a statement about the culture that were in because different ones react differently. It is just this innate desire. That's the highest tree let me climb to the top of it like for no other reason just to see what it's like up there.
Jon: To bring it back to school we eventually met during our senior year working together our senior thesis and creating this gallery.
Katie: Such good times.
Jon: I think for me that was when I realized I wanted to continue being a designer so to say are going down that path and because of the experience that we had creating the event and curatting the exhibition for all the student work and things like that. What was your plan? What did you have in mind after school for you? You even won an award during our graduation.
Katie: Oh yes.
Jon: It was a Scott Cag~ award prize?
Katie: I can't remember it's on my BIOS somewhere.
Jon: It's a big one too that's like the best prize coming out of Mason Gross.
Katie: I didn't even realize like before we started the microphone discussion just talking about like that I was really a bookworm throughout school and like very nose to the grindstone. I was like I'm here to learn. I double majored so I did the BFA, but I also majored in art history as well. I was just like super into like knowledge. But part of that was also being on the student government so that was me representing the visual arts department, but there was also dance, theater and music department. So, we'd all meet in this little room I think every week throughout the semesters, but that also made me more visible for the deans as well and I got to form a relationship with them and their office was in the Mason Gross Building the Civic Square. Yes it was these years. Like I think I started student government, we had our orientation we were brought into Rutgers and then that day like we all got called in to our different departments and split up, but I think I went directly to the dean after that initial intro. I was like “How can I do something?” They're like “I don't know student government.” I'm like “Great.”
Jon: Just got involved immediately.
Katie: Like literally the first day. So different things like that where it's a compulsion to just like be as engaged as possible even if and especially if it's things that are like mundane or like the inner workings of things I really like.
Jon: When graduating did you have an idea that you wanted to do a more kind of independent process or journey as a practicing artist?
Katie: So, I knew I didn't want to go to grad school immediately.
Jon: Which is usually a like I mean a lot of kids that we went to school that's a natural step you can just jump right into it.
Katie: Exactly. I remember I told this quite often especially when I go back and visit is I remember taking an independent study with Stephen Westfall and every time he would come and visit the studio he would be like “Okay what programs are you applying to?” And like sit down in a chair. I'd be like I'm going to move to Brooklyn I'm going to get a job. None. I'm hopefully going to get married and you know just figure it out from there. The world of academia is just one world and that's the closest like I said earlier is like for an artist there's no distinct path. But something that's a little clearer is to remain in the world of academia. So, it is to go on to get a get a higher degree. It is to teach and then build up to being on a 10-year track. But the thing is I never really loved teaching. I think I might eventually, but I never was jumping out of the blocks and saying like oh I want to have a classroom of kids or I want something like that. My quest when I was out of school was like let me figure it out like I want to I want to see how this works.
Jon: Very much stepping into the unknown.
Katie: So, I literally I think we graduated May 16th and moved to Brooklyn June 1st.
Jon: Wow that was quick. It took me a year or so living back home the parents place, but you made that move immediately.
Katie: Yes. I never gave myself an option I guess a lot of the way. I do have like stubbornness to me where it's like ah this one thing. I moved to Brooklyn it took me about two months to get a job which I was freaking out about at the time just everyday pounding the pavement sending out a bunch of random craigslist ads kind of thing. I landed pretty quickly this job as the manager of a fabrication studio in Bushwick, but ended up being there for a year and a half in a studio of artists. I got to meet so many people. I think over the course of that year I made work, but I made it in my apartment which is great. It was very accessible, but there was still a yearning for you know leaving academia leaving that whole community where you have like just resources and people and critiques all at your feet essentially. Jumping into a new place where you don't know anyone and you don't have a job—
Jon: Almost starting all over again.
Katie: Yes. I didn't realize how fresh the start would be, but again it gave me a lot of agency to figure out how to—
Jon: Kind of forces you to get with the program in a sense.
Katie: Yes so it definitely took me about two years to kind of get comfortable or feels as though I had like a really good steady rhythm. After about a year and a half I left the job my first job and got a second one which I stepped away from a manager title and actually took a day less of work on purpose because I wanted to have a studio practice and start making that more of a priority.
Jon: How important is it to kind of almost not necessarily force you put yourself in that situation?
Katie: It's interesting how often I do that and I think at this point it's a certain comfort zone. What I feel comfortable with probably makes people uncomfortable because there is a lot of unknown. But I'm constantly you know just kind of gauging things seeing how far I can stretch all my resources seeing how big I can make a project seeing how much work I can make or how much time I can devote and just always kind of like assessing those things.
Jon: Where does this bring us to in terms of time like are we far off from when you decided that you were going to also co open a space and newer?
Katie: Yes. I think I did a lot of things in the in that year and a half to two years where—
Jon: You're also organizing events in between all this.
Jon: I mentioned I went to one or two and in the Dumbo area that you had organized.
Katie: True. So, I've done quite a bit of work.
Jon: I wrote a lot of them down. I'm just going to let you tell.
Katie: Okay. I've kind of I've lost over it I was talking about just the practical but mundane day jobs and whatnot. But I think if I'm being completely honest there was two years out of school there is a massive amount of angst in terms of like okay so how do I do this thing and what do I need right now. A lot of those projects came from unfortunately it came from a place of angst, but there's also once you experience that it's you have two decisions you can either be active or passive. For me all of those projects were just actively trying to answer all the questions that I had or somehow get closer to the resources that I thought I needed actually I knew I needed in terms of being an artist. So, the first project I think I can't remember the year “No Holds Barred” so just kind of like a rough breakdown of that. Being an artist, being in the city, having a day job great got that settled. I'm making paintings at home feel really good about it, but I still don't have any type of community. There is no one that I can like do critiques with. I'm self educating in terms of like going to openings and going to shows. The things that I'm seeing are these big Chelsea galleries and they're huge market driven white boxes that seemed extremely inaccessible almost unapproachable on a certain level.
So, feeling a lot of frustration that I knew was working a much disciplined manner and I knew a bunch of artists who had recently met working similarly, but we weren't necessarily receiving the recognition that I thought we deserved. So, it was on Facebook somebody said “You know I have a gallery storefront in the Lower East Side. I need it rented out for the month of August.” And at the time I was thinking about taking a class at just like a you know one-off kind of art history class or something like that so I kind of thought about it and I was like you know what for the price of taking a class it's roughly the same amount to rent out this gallery space. In terms of programming we've got a month the person who posted that listing on Facebook I ended up saying like, “Hey, I found out about this because of you let's do it together if you want like I'll pay for the space. But then also feel free to do your own programming there because you gave me this resource so there you go.” So, I think in a month's time we put on five different exhibitions and I think the grand total was like 30 different artists, designers including yourself, musicians and just creative’s were all involved in that month-long project.
Jon: Yes that's a lot in a month and also at the very beginning of that you're already kind of thinking of taking a class to kind of benefit yourself. Learning that always seems like an investment to yourself. It's a good thing to do, but instead of you said now I'm going to take this money and put it into this gallery and see what comes out of it.
Katie: For me it was a course it was still an education. It's a crash course.
Jon: That's a good point. I learned by doing much easier and I'm more effective when I'm making as I'm going along.
Katie: Of course.
Jon: I'm hitting my head to a book over and over again.
Katie: There's some in terms of coming out of academia you learn all these examples, but when you get into the practical real world they just seem very in like unobtainable it's like you look at someone like Stella who had show up MOMA in his 20s or something like that and you're just like how the fuck. How does that happen? Where do I sign up? Where do I get in the line? Where do I look?
Jon: It seems like a big jump. We weren't taught how to program a month-long show or exhibition in school know and to reach out and gain contact with those people. So, those are all things that you kind of have to learn on the roll.
Katie: Well that's also looking back at things that I had been doing I just didn't realize. So, it’s funny I had put on through the original Trenton association of artists and through Rutgers when I was at school I actually curated a show and helped organize it. For some reason I reached out to them and I said like “Hey, they're a bunch of like college students like wouldn't it be great if we just got five colleges in New Jersey and we had art students like submit work so that everyone can have a show.” So, they're like “Yeah that's great like we'll figure out the space like you organize it and put the emails together and stuff like that.” I thought that they were actually organizing it, keeping track of everything and send emails.
Jon: Keeping track of everything inside.
Katie: So, I did curate a show when I was in college and I was very involved with thesis when we put our show together. So, these are things for one reason or another I'm just innately drawn to and I had at least some kind of basis.
Jon: I know you've gone on to put on a bunch of other programs and then shows since then. But I think you kind of mentioned it earlier that you had this kind of desire to build the community again. Something similar to one year in school you have the kind of resources and the community to get feedback on projects. For me even so like that's still very important you need to have kind of that circle of trust or not so much trust actually the opposite right. You need to have an unbiased kind of community.
Katie: Totally somebody who's going to actually you know give you an opinion to kind of chew on.
Jon: How important in developing that community? How important has that been to kind of build that for yourself here, leaving, graduating school, moving to Brooklyn and seeking out those kind of opportunities?
Katie: I think a lot of the curatorial projects I didn't lead with the foot of saying like I want to show so that everyone can say that they had a show or I didn't think of like oh I'm going to curate this thing so that I'm super awesome and said that I curated this thing. The impetus for all those projects was like I want a community. I see you know this artist who might deeply admire and this artist whose work is amazing and I want to put them in a room and I want a real conversation to happen. I just want to be the facilitator of all of that. In some way like find a community through that experience. So, they were never any like titles or anything involved. Through doing that enough times I definitely honed in on a community and kind of got my feet under me here even got to work with so many people throughout those different projects.
Jon: For someone that's starting off younger students things like that what would you say that process may involve?
Katie: In terms of like ending up with a giant show or just any exhibition.
Jon: As simple as an exhibition I think coming out of school you want to continue that energy and then show your work and get in front as many people as possible.
Katie: In terms of going back to like these different standards of which one we're taught in academia and two help us kind of validate our existence as artists. You can make and you can be a great maker, but on some level it's not enough. So, on some level there's this pressure to get this other external validation through shows or through different people like noticing your work on some level. I guess Instagram is like a big thing now too especially for artists. I think two years is a really good amount of time to give yourself where the only things you should really be thinking about or like how to feed yourself and put your clothes on the right way. Just figure out those practical things first and continue to make diligently and in a very focused discipline manner, but don't put pressure on yourself in terms of having to show work immediately.
Jon: You mentioned Instagram would you say things like social media have sort of changed that world? It's a little bit more accessible in that sense where you can kind of come across people's work more freely.
Katie: Yes it's interesting I actually really like Instagram. The way that I started using it was for all these curatorial projects. So, I didn't really use it for my work or personal life quite as much, but I used it as a platform to like get these shows out there into the world and make sure that people knew what was going on and you know make sure people came to these different events which was really great; it is a super helpful tool for me. I think I'm going to give a very idealistic view as to it Instagram is because I don't know I see the good and potential to have a platform where you can just express yourself, create your own content, figure out your ideas and figure out your message. I think for so many creative’s it's really useful into like laterally give information and share resources; I think that's the whole point. It is moving away from something that's like oh I have this resource let me buy it. Instead Instagram is more of like I can still see this visual piece I can still enjoy it or I can still learn about this information, but it’s all free which is a whole different kind of platform or way of thinking.
Jon: As a learning resource which is super valuable.
Katie: Oh-my-gosh. There is some level which it's not the only resource by any means it's anything you want it to be. So, for me I'm able to get a lot of news from it or select which galleries I want to follow, select which artists I want to follow and just and really keep like little short Soundbite clips of like whatever's going on and then delve in further when I feel like I need to supplement information. So, much of the last 20 years in terms of what it means to like have your work shown, is to rely upon like a gallery to represent you or to develop those types of relationships where you entrust somebody to show your work, get your work out there and find collectors. In a way it's like I can't help but think of Bran Koozie the sculptor who would like make the work, but then he would also photograph it and then he'd document it and then he like write the press releases for it. He would just do every step of the way for his work with his work. There's something about that and Instagram that I can't help, but kind of shove in one box together in a weird way.
Jon: You’re in charge of more of the kind of the tasks and processes.
Katie: You have the power and potential at least to kind of do what you need to do. Granted you might be an awful photographer and totally somehow—
Jon: It pushes you to be better in those kinds of aspects that are less primary every day.
Katie: Yes. I think it's really telling of our generation this kind of entrepreneurial spirit that lives on is it could be good it could be bad but like everyone is responsible for what they're putting out there and their content and how to kind of navigate that virtual space.
Jon: I want to get into some of the work that you've recently done you participated in Art in Odd Places and I think that's something I've seen you do since pretty much graduating I know you've been involved with that. What is that? It’s kind of a whole almost like a festival in a sense.
Katie: Yes. Art in Odd Places we just wrapped it up in October and it's a beautiful festival. This year was the 14th year it's been going on. The originator in the director Ed Woodham conceived of the idea as this performance vessel that would happen all along the stretch of 14th Street. So, there would be performances, it's intermittently kind of guerilla style. So, there are no permits involved and you're just navigating with the sidewalk population of New York City. If you're a pedestrian walking and doing your grocery shopping or something like that or you're a tourist that's kind of wandering around Union Square you would kind of stumble upon these like really bizarre performances up and down the street. So, it kind of started there and like I said this was the 14th year. Each year there's a different curator that's invited. So, this year the curator was Katya Grokhovsky. She is an interdisciplinary artist. So, some of her work is performance but also drawing sculpture; kind of different elements to it. We decided to do an open call this year which was the first year. Usually it’s curators that will invite different artists. So, to do an open call is like a whole a whole other monster. So, we did that. This was the first year we had a gallery component to the show as well. Usually it's just a four-day performance festival and if you see it if you don't then—
Jon: Miss that.
Katie: Oops. Then I think we had a deal imitation this year in the sense that it was only female or non-binary identifying artists were to be involved so. There were males involved in the project, but it was if it was a collaborative effort kind of spearheaded by one of the other artists.
Jon: What were some of the topics that you saw and some of the pieces that perform this year?
Katie: The overall the curatorial theme this year was body. A lot of it was like identity body, but we really tried through that open call to just get a really diverse understanding of what that meant. So, sometimes it was really physical so it was a performer just using their body within space and how people would interact with their presence both on the sidewalk and in the gallery. There's another project that was really awesome that was a grant. So, somebody who was like walking all up and down involved with this grant. So, there would be a number of different categories that people would make themselves and then people would like vote and with their vote they would donate money as well. So, eventually I think it amassed I can't remember how much the final total was. But over the course of four weeks amass a certain amount of money in whichever grant won that's what the money would go to. So, that's also like a body in a sense; astrological bodies and all different kinds.
Jon: A lot of different ways of thinking outside the box.
Katie: Yes we tried and also you know age was a factor as well the whole we tried to include the whole spectrum.
Jon: You ended up with this wide kind of array of different interpretations.
Jon: When you mentioned I was like where is this going back to body, that definition could be very broad.
Katie: Yes. So, we tried to really highlight the ones that of course you're going to think of the body the body of the body. We saw a lot of breasts and a lot of vaginas and applications constantly.
Jon: That's also been a very immediate topic in kind of culture today body, awareness and things like that. So, I think you can easily kind of go to that space taking a step away from that right is it was sort of some of the point.
Katie: We were able to really pull a wide breadth. I think it's worth it to say to that we had 43 different artists or collaborative groups nationally internationally meet together in one space and one performance festival to do it this year which is just a lot.
Jon: That’s awesome.
Katie: A lot of people.
Jon: You also participate in art or in odd places. You also have this series that hangs in your studio here that I've come to enjoy watching you kind of come up with this called the FOMO series which is fear of missing out. Where did the idea come from to do a series around that? Or it could be a body of work really it's not so much as a series that you kind of have continued to push what it can be.
Katie: This series or the work that's around us right now just to describe it a little bit, it's fairly abstract and it's very contingent upon color and scale. There are very formal things but there's this reoccurring motif of kind of these two ovals very centrally positioned. For me this is a shape that I stumbled upon during undergrad for thesis. Let me think. It included three different three different panels, but one of them was this like mask like shape; this face with these eyes. It was somehow conflating like ancient masks either in like pre-Columbian, Egyptian, Greek art history. The idea of how different rulers would represent themselves and have control over how their image was proliferated culturally our day to day experience with something like social media like Facebook and how we are very much in control of like we kind of mentioned before a little bit what images we put out, how we edit things, basically our virtual persona in a way. So, that's when I started thinking about kind of those ideas. But since then I've I did that one piece and undergrad, left it for about three years, came back to it a little bit, left it again and so this is kind of the third time I'm coming back to it. I think I'm particularly and noticeably emphatic about it.
Jon: I mean it's kind of interesting that you went back just to work that you had done years ago. I don’t want to say years ago it hasn't been long but revisiting that.
Katie: City time is particularly long too because you'll meet somebody you'll meet so many people and you get so close and then you're at an opening and they're like how long did you guys know each other. You look at each other and you're like known you for like six months, but like we hang out every day. So, it's the same thing. Technically this is kind of has been at the forefront but it's also been on the backburner for maybe like five years. Now it's presenting itself very strongly and so I'm kind of just following that thread and just being as obsessed as I need to be with this particular shape, I would call in shape.
Jon: I want to kind of switch over. We could go on forever and talk about the work that you've done in since we've met and there's a lot that we haven't covered here.
Jon: I also kind of want to touch on a little bit of what are you doing outside of your studio when you're not putting in the hours, working on your projects and your different kind of initiatives? Where does Katie find time to relax actually decompress a little bit?
Katie: I'm a really bad example of that. It’s mostly because I'm like horribly obsessed with this. So, for me it's like I really wish I had a hobby, but this is it for me. So, I get it's like the endless carrot that's like in front it's just there's always something to be working towards and I'm horribly goal-oriented. It's exhilarating. Anytime anything ever gets too comfortable I always am bound to switch things up a little bit and to not make things harder, but see how far I can push things. I have gotten into reading more which is really nice. I recently switched up my work schedule so I'm working more freelance now. I would say in my day-to-day is to be in the studio like three days a week, but also supplement those other days with writing proposals, either curatorial or for different residences. So, hopefully in 2019 there will be a decent amount of travel and I'll be able to kind of explore dialogues that are outside of New York City and just grow in that way through those experiences.
Jon: You also just moved from Brooklyn back into Manhattan with your husband now Ben one f my favorite guys. How has that been? I've worked in Brooklyn and there's a bunch of beautiful little bars and restaurants. Do you find that you're also kind of stumbling around into these wonderful little corners in the city as well?
Katie: Yes. So, I moved from Prospect Lefferts Gardens in Brooklyn to the East Village in Manhattan. It was a little bit of a shift. I realize I have a very hard time moving because I was moving apartments, but I was also moving my studio space so June 1st. So, it was a little bit disorienting.
Jon: All at the same time.
Jon: Wow. You have like two sets of mover’s two sets of things going on.
Katie: Yes I was moving. I had resources which are great but I was also physically yeah kind of running around and stuff. I'd say since then I've gotten into like a really nice pace of life. East Village is cool there are definitely it is luckily still a neighborhood although it's—
Jon: It's a village it's still nice and cozy somewhat.
Katie: I wouldn't say the East Village is cozy it’s got an edge to it which is a little scary.
Jon: I guess it feels warmer than the rest of the city because it is more of that neighborhood kind of vibe.
Katie: It's definitely a vibe which is great and so in a neighborhood as opposed to different parts of Manhattan has gotten totally commercial and they're long gone. Plus real estate is like incredibly untouchable in different places. So, that's still one pocket where it's somewhat reasonable.
Jon: You can actually potentially attain a place and rent. You’re not like selling yours and your children’s soul.
Katie: Yes you can still swing it. Having lived in both places now they both have different amazing beautiful aspects to them. There's a different pace in Manhattan and I feel really lucky to just be close to so many galleries. That was kind of the thought of moving there. I've definitely seized that opportunity.
Jon: Do you have any favorites in the village? I don't know of any names necessarily that pop up. I know where to walk. I know what streets to walk to stumble into a few, but do you have any kind of that stand out to you that you just find yourself going back to?
Katie: Yes. Is it in terms of the East Village gallery scene?
Katie: I would say my personal favorite for me is the whole. I really like the whole. I don't know if that technically fits in might be Soho or something like that. I love their programming. I definitely follow along with them. There's Turn gallery which I can't remember what street it's on I think it might be first, but that's right down the street. I've seen their past two shows and they're really fantastic. They're a bunch of like artist pop-up spaces in the East Village that I kind of stumble upon once in a while that’s really awesome. Fright and Volume is right down the street. There is a ton kind of in the Lower East Side area, but I follow pretty closely.
Jon: I know you mentioned a little bit that you know you like to try to mix up your schedule. So, when you're not in the studio you're writing proposals and trying to work more on getting outside of the city as well. Are there any other big plans that you have for the coming 2019?
Katie: 2019 I'm definitely—
Jon: Be careful because if you say it on audio you're going to have to hold yourself to it.
Katie: I’m sorry.
Jon: I don't think you'll have a problem with that.
Katie: It's been interesting tracking the last couple years coming into the city and leading with the curatorial foot well not secretly, but in the mean time starting to kind of percolate this studio practice. Now I feel like they're both on a more even playing field. I want to keep that balance; I really do. Curatting is a part of my self-education. So, it's a matter of putting on a different hat, learning and being social and still keeping in touch with what's going on. So, hopefully I can do a couple of curatorial projects, but maybe making them bigger in terms of scale in 2019. So, maybe just like one bigger project instead of like 10 different pop-ups or two or—
Jon: One big one and then maybe only five.
Katie: Yes. It's a really addictive kind of energy. As much as I say I'll stop I don't think I'll stop doing that.
Jon: Fr me as well it's hard to say I am going to give myself another two years of doing this and then try to slow things down. I'm like I don't know if there's a stopping point yet.
Katie: I don't think you should well in your 20s.
Jon: We're still very young as well.
Katie: True. Not slowing down, but just like a reframing of like okay so what I want from my projects what I want to say, what do I want my artists to get out of it because technically I'm not trying to sell work necessarily which is a little counterintuitive. But I am trying to give any artists that I work with as much of a platform as possible and get them as much recognition as possible for the work that they've done. So, navigating what that means in 2019 I think. Then in terms of me and my own practice I've managed to just step away from applying to grad school so many times where for the last four or five years I'm like oh I'm going to do it, I'm going to do it and then I'm like no I'm not going to do it. So, now it's more or less like I have more time with like a more freelance schedule so let me just see. I know of all these resources that exist around the city, but maybe I've had a job that's made me too tired to really go for it. Let me see if I go for it. Let me see what happens. At the very least since August between August and now I think I sent out 30 different proposals.
Katie: There might be another show before the end of the year. Maybe something will happen before the end of the year, but I'm really going to try and just be patient and calm and send out the last couple of proposals between now and the end of 2018.
Jon: I wish you the best of luck. Just you saying that kind of gives me the energy I'm like oh man I really need to pick up what I'm doing now before the year is over.
Katie: Sometimes I get halfway through writing a proposal and then I on some level like I realized like no maybe I just don't need that right now.
Jon: I think genuinely you have this energy about you that it's hard to not also catch. So, I appreciate that and I think that's going to kind of one of the best qualities that I've come to realize and meeting you when we were younger in school and then where you are today thank you.
Katie: Thank you too.
Jon: You're looking to have a few big projects in 2019. Where can people get in touch to potentially work with you or just kind of find out about your work and you?
Katie: In terms of Instagram I have a couple different handles. I guess the main one that I'm trying to shunt people to is Katy Hector Art. I have a private account which is slightly more personal; which is just my name Katy Hector. Then in terms of my nomadic gallery space that I co-direct it is Sine Gallery at Sine_Gallery. So, those are the three Instas.