Jessica Alkire

Inspiration is Everywhere

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25-year-old Katelyn Farstad, a fellow Minnesota native, artfully combines painting and a wide array of different materials to create truly unique and memorable pieces. Her work has gained wide recognition; in fact, she received a solo exhibition at Midway Contemporary Art, and her work has been included in exhibitions in cities such as Minneapolis, Chicago, New York, and Berlin. She will surely continue to leave her mark in the arts for years to come. I spoke with Katelyn about her the inspiration and meaning behind her pieces and her dreams for today and the future.

At what age did you become interested in art? How did that interest develop?
My grandmother came to painting late in her life, and she was probably the first exposure I had to making things. I can remember being about six and being in her studio and looking at the paint on the canvas and freaking out a little bit because it probably blew my mind. My father is also a photographer, so he was always very encouraging, but I didn’t really become heavily interested in art until I was about thirteen years old.

What is your inspiration? 
Many things… I am inspired by images I have never seen before, and the hot pursuit of them. I am inspired by the “Is it half empty or half full?” stupid avenue of predicament. I’m inspired by other artists. I read a Fernando Pessoa poem recently for the first time, and I think it really inspired me, but here, have a read:

Whatever the case, it would have been better not to be born,
For no matter how interesting it is at every moment,
Life sometimes hurts, jades, cuts, bruises, grates,
Makes us want to scream, to jump, to wallow, to walk
Out of every house and every logic and off every balcony,
And to become savage and die among trees and things forgotten,
Among collapses and hazards and absence of tomorrows,
And all this, O life, should be something closer to what I think,
To what I think or what I feel, whatever that is.

I cross my arms on the table, I lay my head on my arms,
And I need to want to cry, but I don’t know where to find the tears.
No matter how hard I try to pity myself, I don’t cry,
My soul is broken under the curved finger that touches it . . .
What will become of me? What will become of me?

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What do you hope to convey through art to viewers?
I attempt to convey how truly insane it is to be alive at all, and that it’s okay to chew with your mouth open, visually speaking.

What does a typical day on the job entail?
When I can work on artwork, I do so in little 1-2 hour spurts, never more than about 5 hours a day. I take breaks to cut up images or drink some tea or play drums for a little bit. The best days are when I don’t have to go to my “real job” and can work on things all day. It also usually involves wearing a ventilation mask and having to wait for paint or glue to dry! A quick yet slow process….I like to work mostly in silence.

What is your favourite piece of work? 
I could never say or pick a ‘favourite artwork’, there are so many artworks I have no clue about and will never even see! I just saw Meret Oppenheim’s retrospective in Berlin at the Martin-Gropius-Bau and it is totally insane! I was blown away by how fearless she was in making whatever she wanted to make. But my favorite thing that I have made is the sculpture “And You Will…” from MOUTHBREATHER at Midway Contemporary Art (pictured below). I love this sculpture because it is unlike anything else I have ever made and there is next to no surface treatment of the objects involved. I find it to be an accomplishment, since I love to cover the surface with tons and tons of materials usually. An exercise of restraint. Also, I love it because I broke apart a chair to use in the sculpture, and man… I love chairs, they are mostly unchanged victors. The piece is a post-haste ‘shout-out’ to a driftwood sculpture from 1919 made by “The Baroness” Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven.

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What is the greatest challenge of being an artist? What do you most enjoy?
Making art is almost impossible sometimes, so I guess there’s that. I love the fact that what I make allows me to see- not necessarily clearly – a deep and seedy aspect of myself that I am not entirely privy to, that doesn’t belong to the same self I’m known to be outside of making art. Hopefully this honesty/disregard of self allows others to confront things within themselves that they are maybe trying to avoid or are kept unturned. However, a viewer brings such different subjective sets of cards to any piece that to hope that one type of reaction will occur over another is insane.

What barriers do you and/or young artists in general today face? 
A big barrier I feel is the pressure to have my ego powerwashed into the back of my skull, you know? I hate the pressure to know exactly what I have to offer and what I will have to offer in a few years, and this idea that an artist needs to brand themselves and be consistent- I do not like that. Art is about experimenting and doing whatever you want regardless of outside pressures.

What is your greatest achievement thus far in your career?
My greatest achievements thus far are an exhibition I had at Midway Contemporary Art (MPLS) in November 2012, entitled MOUTHBREATHER, and also an exhibition of works at Luis Campana (Berlin), entitled HEATRASH, that just opened in November 2013.

What future projects are you currently working toward?
I am working on starting a local gallery and poetry press (GAS GALLERY AND PRESS) in Minneapolis to publish some poetry and writing of my peers. The gallery has only had one exhibition (the works of Kelsey Olson) in the past. Not everyone affiliated is based in Minneapolis; we accept submissions to consider for publication or exhibition. I will release a book of my own poetry and writings entitled “SCARY BRAIN TRICK” in early winter 2014 through GAS.

To learn more about Katelyn Farstad and see more of her work, visit her website today.

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