Whitworth University 2020 Faculty Biennial

Katie Creyts Part 1

In preparation for this series of blog posts, I asked each of the participating artists to respond to a variety of questions.  Over the next few days we will take a look the work of Katie Creyts and read what she had to say about it.

When asked to speak about art in a general sense, Katie responded, “The social role of art creates empathy and unique and interpretable perspectives in a time of uncertainty. Inchoate feelings can resonate through interpreted narratives, color, texture, and symbolism. I like to think of the artist as a “chien de garde” for humanity; peripheral, alert, and keen. One who crosses disciplines, growls and chews at ideas and presents work for others to do the same.”

And when asked about her work in particular, she provided these thoughts, “It is my contention that animals are now inadvertently, and to their peril, moralizing us as our lifestyles push them to the brink of extinction. An example is the bear. In the tales from 1600s it is a wild emblem of fear, in the 1800s it is a domesticated circus clown, in the 1900s it’s a teddy bear and a Coca Cola marketing gimmick, and now the bony polar bear is a symbol of climate change and extinction. The metaphor we so enjoy is being extinguished by the reality of genuine exigency.  As much as I’d like to say that my works like “Bluff” or “Tickle and Lick” are fictive; they are drawn from my real and vivid fears. How can we be so tangled up and complicated as to not see both the beauty that is them and the brutal arrogance that is us? I also have included the sugary glass painting entitled “Selkirk”. In 2017, the featured woodland caribou lost its habitat in the lower 48; the last herd extinguished was so close to us in the Selkirk range. We push cultural needs on the natural and alternately want authentic and idyllic nature to be available for our pleasure. It’s an ecological, cultural, and personally, a spiritual crisis. Conserve them, then damn them.  I am called to live respectfully and restoratively because I believe God creatively bodies forth in all living things. How do I fix this using my gifts and resources?”

Preparatory work. Not currently on display.

“My work follows an illustrative tradition as I create tableaux using objects and characters out of glass. I work with glass not only because I enjoy the challenges of the material, but also because the material itself shifts from a liquid to a solid. This process seems to underscore the shapeshifting nature of storytelling and the glass color has candy-like qualities, bright and glossy or sugary reminiscent of Hansel and Gretel’s woodland discovery.  I also have interest in textiles and patterning that brings the out of doors into domestic spaces, from the designs of William Morris to Marimekko. These play a secondary role in the image making process, providing texture and backdrop to the scenes.”

You can find the artworks mentioned above on Katie’s website:


Habitat, glass and hardware, 2020, 19x13x1.75 inches, $1500.  First of three pieces currently on display in the Bryan Oliver Gallery.

Following is Katie’s Artist Statement for the exhibit:  These three works are explorations of the domestication of nature.  The domestication of sheep and goats is uniquely tied to Christianity, a rich metaphor for following the teachings of Jesus that piqued my curiosity, as domestication and wild sit in binary opposition.  The idea of “nature” in visual representations being utopian and human impact being dystopian.  At once decorative and domestic, the material and processes of glass enrich the narrative representations in this work with colors, textures, and patterns to draw the viewer in.  Then, upon drawing the viewer in, it is my hope, to prick their intellect with the peculiar line between domestic and wild in which we exist.

And here is her response when I asked the following question, could you explain the use of pattern in “Habitat”?  They all appear familiar.  Why did you choose these particular patterns?:  “They’re domestic patterns, like lace and delft – the outside brought inside, and fences. The wild sheep is facing imagery of domestication.  Fences, roads, and rails present terrible obstacles for these animals.”

We hope you enjoyed Katie’s work and words, and keep an eye out for part 2.

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