KAT HOWARD

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ARTIST STATEMENT

I make fiber art that addresses the history of the persecution of the female body, through which, I interrogate my own identity as a survivor of violence against women. I use abstraction, the innate language of texture, and the repulsion/attraction of touch in my visual 'fiber poems' to capture the fight to break free from trauma. Witch is a word I endeavor to reclaim for all women.

 

The material and texture of the object is integral to my practice, and its connection to the body. Evidence of the hand and the physical marks of the body is always present in my work. My pieces either have a physicality to them that feels almost human, or they are expressionist representations of landscapes where the body is noticeably absent. I am intrigued by the public and private functions of the body as they are represented in the intimate, domestic setting of fiber art. 

 

I make work that addresses how the female body has been viewed over time, with a raw, direct approach to narrative and an emphasis on the sense memory we all have with textiles. The language of my visual art and my poetry is simple, yet explicit and fully charged. I'm interested in women's relationships to their bodies, and the roles that their bodies have played throughout history. What happens to the body when it is forced to become a vessel for trauma? In what ways do we physically carry pain? How is the self altered afterwards? These are some of the questions I examine in my work.

I’m fascinated how historically women worked within the constraints of the domestic space to express themselves, and how their mark making was an attempt to make the true self known; to force the female body to be seen outside of its bound, traditional context. The labor behind weaving and textile construction is so important to my work. It is a medium of art where you can't help but be floored by the hours, the precision, and the repetition that is necessary to execute an idea: all of these things are a powerful metaphor for women's work. There's strength in this quiet, fevered language.

"I am just the messenger, my hands have not marked this history," is repeated over and over again in the historical documents I encounter during my investigations while conceptualizing my art. I have an MFA in Poetry, and an MFA in Studio Art, which is to say I love research. In my work, I try to pause and capture the moment that occurs where society turns away from what is happening, in an attempt to hold the viewer's eye open. By using history as a lens to examine the female body, I am able to explore the charged awareness of my own body and identity as a survivor of abuse and violence.

 

Historical themes I've examined in my work include: how corsets altered women's bodies, the Trail of Tears, Victorian mourning practices, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, the treatment of hysteria in women in the 19th century, cautionary folk tales, and witches. Through fiber art I feel like I am able to convey the collective voice of women who have been pushed down, but rose back up again, in thousands of tiny stitches, textures, and tones. Anonymous women might have been nameless, but the echo of their voices can still be felt in to the present. As a survivor of physical and sexual violence, I've found healing and self-empowerment through using my work to talk about my experience, and the deeper history that ties myself, and many other women together.

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Thurs-Sun 11am-6pm

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747 Route 28

Kingston, NY 12401

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