I am quite enthralled by the work of one of New Orleans' brightest art stars, Katie Rafferty, who is showing this month at Cole Pratt Gallery.
Katie is a unique individual whose personal vibrancy, sense of humor and sensitivity reflect intensely in her artwork. She is a good friend of mine and a wild woman who provides me with a great amount of inspiration and an overwhelming sense of fun.
She has an amazing breadth of knowledge of Art History and artists, a huge library of art books, and an active and inquiring mind on all subjects. She is a great conversationalist and definitely lives "outside the box." All of these qualities inform her art and her life which reflects in her wonderful art.
Katie's work is a richly detailed tapestry of color,collage , printmaking and brushwork which both portrays her inner and outer experience of living life in her beloved New Orleans.
Inspired by details of the daily walk from her home in the Garden District to her studio just off Magazine Street, Katie decided to prepare for her show by doing a wordless essay of “the street”.
In her Artist Statement, describes her daily journey as follows:
"Fortunately, the walk from home to the studio is A) short B) entertaining and C) provides enough inspiration for a lifetime of artwork. "
An accomplished printmaker, Katie set a goal for herself to produce 100 monotypes based on photographs she took along this route. It is a fascinating body of work, which expresses in a very personal way the artist's love for and immersion in the delights of living in this city, which she sees as layered with the intense and exotic, the tropical and historic, the refined and the wild. And like so many of us, she is enthralled by our amazing architecture, hence the title of her show: Street Vernacular.
She describes her process in her own words:
"In order to convey the sense of layers I make my printing plates out of encaustic materials. The encaustic (wax) layered cardboard is then incised, embedded with texture and built up layer by layer with relief materials."
"Once the plate is made I paint it with oil paints using a variety of tools (often my fingers) to achieve different effects."
"After the monotype is pulled from the press I continue to add layers of pencil and pastel and often collage."
These prints are so finely detailed and sensual in the way the paint reacts with the layers of wax and relief as they pass through the press. The final addition of drawing and collage elements makes them even more personal.
As she progressed through the process of making 100 prints, Katie's work became more whimsical, lyrical and free. Her sense of delight in both the use of materials and the way it relates to her subject matter is abundantly evident.
Upon completion of her series of monotypes, Katie set about the adventure of concocting her large works on canvas.
I was very lucky to have the opportunity to visit Katie several times in her studio and watch as her work developed. I must say that this was one of the most magical of experiences. Each time I visited, there was more to excite my eyes as well as my soul.
Katie works with intensity. She draws inspiration from various sources. At times she reminds me of a cyclone, and her studio often looks like one has passed through!
I loved seeing her develop each painting as a narrative work. Each tells a story about Katie's emotions and experiences of "the street" within a context of the town-in this case New Orleans.
As a person who is fascinated with artists and their creative process, it was amazing to watch Katie express herself and develop her "story" in paint and collage.
Katie says that there is a visual "trip" through each painting. There is a flow for the eye to follow, movement is implied, and refers back to her original inspiration to depict and comment on her daily journey from home to studio.
She carefully and lovingly creates many intriguing "stops" on this personal journey. The visual trip through each painting is an artistic adventure.
The artist's touch is both delicate and sure. She clearly enjoys her work! I think this translates to the viewer.
The final painting is the completion of the journey on many levels: the artist's journey from start of the work to finish, the story of Katie's daily journey to her studio, the viewer's visual journey through the work itself, and finally the journey of the painting from studio to gallery.
Katie's show at Cole Pratt Gallery is not to be missed. Shown together, this current collection of Katie's work gives an even greater feeling of the neighborhood she seeks to portray, yet each individual pieces shines on its own.
On a recent visit to the gallery, Erika Olinger and her associate Margie said they were thrilled with the response to this wonderful show. Although many pieces were sold at the opening reception, there are still a few available. If you are lucky enough to find yourself in the neighborhood, you should treat yourself to a visit with these two fun and knowledgeable girls and see the fabulous work of the very talented and accomplished Katie Rafferty!
The gallery is located at 3800 Magazine Street and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 to 5. If you are in the neighborhood, stroll on down the block and visit my shop, Julie Neill at 3908 Magazine.
I am the owner of Julie Neill Designs in New Orleans where we create beautiful custom lighting. This blog is my love letter to the unique people, places and happenings which make New Orleans the amazing place it is.
Please visit my website to learn more about my lighting and our fabulous shop on Magazine Street.
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