My work begins with material. I make marks with fabric. I create line with plywood. I find density in felt. I return again and again to materials like these that are in themselves quite plain, often associated with utility, and usually very familiar, though overlooked in our daily lives. These material choices give my work a tactile immediacy that is inherent in the materials themselves. When we see them we simultaneously know what they feel like (scratchy, soft, hard) as much as we recognize them. This dual experience of the tactility and familiarity is a quality I explore while working with an abstract visual vocabulary.
The straightforward nature of my materials also influences the way I approach them. Their directness and simplicity inspires me to work with them as simply and directly as I can. I want my process to reveal the material—perhaps in a fresh way—rather than transform it. I see so much possibility and potential in raw materials and for me the best way to work with them is to try to understand their particularities and let those qualities guide me in my working process. I discovered that very simple, accumulative construction methods like stacking and layering, when pushed to their limits, create surprisingly complex results. Stacking allows a material to be itself while becoming something more. In stacking fabric, for example, I found I could build lines with the edges of the cut fabric. Stacking embodies a kind of density and compression that I continually experiment with in my work. I can create abstract patterns and textured color relationships between the individual layers of a stacked material or I can work intuitively. As a process it has a lot of room for freedom and variation. I choose to cut my materials by hand, when possible, so that within this fairly mundane stacking process there is room for the unexpected. The inescapable imperfection of something cut by hand (or drawn by hand) has its own irregular, flawed beauty that gives the work a human quality I find necessary and inevitable.
The formal quality that concerns me most is line. I see line in my materials. I look for line in the world. It has a rhythm, a hum. It both differentiates space and connects it. A line is the simplest mark. It is a part of a whole. In my work I use simple geometric forms because they allow my materials to be to be seen and encountered clearly, unencumbered by their shape. Anni Albers writes “…within set limits the imagination can find something to hold to. There still remains a fullness of choice but not as overwhelming as that offered by unlimited opportunities. These boundaries may be conceived as the skeleton of a structure.” That is how I feel about form in relation to my materials. It is the boundary, the linear skeleton that my intuitive working process and my materials exist within. I also think about form as a way to exploit the differences of my materials: hard and soft, smooth and textured, loose and dense, heavy and light. Using simple geometric forms with linear edges creates a context and a space for those material juxtapositions to occur.
Kate Carr was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska. She graduated from Marlboro College in Marlboro, Vermont and received her MFA in sculpture from the University of Iowa. She has completed residencies at the Vermont Studio Center, the Harwood Museum, Jentel, and the MacDowell Colony. She is also a recipient of a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant. Kate has lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico since 2007. Her work explores material relationships through repetition, juxtaposition, and contemplation.