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Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies 23.1 (2002) 163-164

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Waiting Room, Messenger, Target, and Woman Warrior

Katherine Kadish

The image on the cover, Pattern #10, is from the series of "pattern" paintings and assemblages that began with a single painting for an exhibition of self- portraits in the summer of 1999. I had just moved all of my finished and unfinished canvases to a new storage space next to my studio, and in the process I unearthed twenty-year-old half-forgotten and half-finished paintings in which I had been experimenting with pattern pieces. These paintings still felt potent to me, filled with possibility and levels of meaning, both personal and general. In the past year and a half, the series has taken on a life of its own. I am using ideas and objects, which continue to haunt and surprise me. Clearly, these pieces owe a debt to Dadaist sensibility, but they involve personal history and perception, as well as a lifelong and quite literal interest in both the evocative power of shapes and how a changing context also changes our understanding of shape.

To begin with, sewing was my mother's primary mode of expression and the clearest expression, also, of her personality. I learned the rudiments, both at school and at home, but my interest was mainly limited to the selection of pattern and fabric. It was probably, also, my first experience with shapes in their purest form. Later I was drawn to other things whose shapes related to the body like armor, saddles, and masks, as well as the shapes of the tools and weapons we wield.

At first, the patterns and other forms evoked for me the idea of the proscriptions we all grow up with, and which affect our lives forever, whether or not we accept them or reject them by conscious or unconscious act and thought. But secondly, the process of making these pieces replicates and illustrates the way in which our minds often construct very personal and idiosyncratic patterns out of apparently disparate objects, events, observations and ideas. It is the way in which we try to make sense, interesting and surprising sense, out of the world we live in and the history that preceded ours.

Messenger, Mixed Media, 76" x 34" x 18" 2000

Waiting Room, Mixed Media, 49" x 23" x 20" 2000

Target, Mixed Media, 49" x 20" x 4" 2001

Woman Warrior, Mixed Media, 56" x 16" x 16" 2001


Katherine Kadish, a visual artist and teacher, and winner of numerous awards and fellowships, began taking Saturday art classes at a Pittsburgh museum in the fourth grade. She completed a degree in art education and painting at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University and a master's degree in art history from the University of Chicago. Her career has bridged three decades, and her work has been shown in galleries in Chicago, Indianapolis, Washington dc, New York, and London.



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