Whitworth University 2020 Faculty Biennial

Katie Creyts Part 2

Today we continue our look at the work and words of Katie Creyts.  The following image is a preparatory work that Katie has shared with us so that we can get an idea of how her compositions develop.

Watercolor on paper. Not currently on display.

When asked how her working process begins, Katie had this to say, “Here’s a sample narrative – there’s usually a trigger, something I read or saw, or heard on the radio.  Now, people who know my work, are passing articles and ideas on to me. Yesterday I received an image of a buck passing in front of my friend’s car with Christmas lights strewn in his antlers.  I keep this idea in my archive.

Late on Saturday night I called my husky dog, Jezebel, inside. She came in blinded – foaming at the mouth and disoriented. Then the smell hit. The punch of skunk oil was everywhere. She had been sprayed at close range, in her face. Ungracefully, I wrestled her to the shower and tried to wash it away. She winced, slipped, and shook off until we were both stinky and soaked; her thick coat would need to shed this out. Despite my best efforts to clean and Febreze her and the house, it stank as I sat at my computer on Sunday prepping for Monday night’s class.

My house has become my refuge from the chaos of the COVID-19 virus, a place where I think I can control the narrative and keep myself safe and calm. However, Jezebel brought the wild inside our shelter. The threshold was brashly breeched, and the offender, though absent, was clear. The all-too-common “conversation” between skunk and the dog made its way into my living room. Though the skunk escapade was just an unwanted interruption, it triggered thoughts about the intersection of domestic and wild.

If one scans the news, one can find current articles on viruses and their relationship with wild creatures, domestic animals, and humans. Headlines include, “Pangolins Found to Carry Related Strain”, “Tiger at U.S. Zoo Tests Positive for Coronavirus”, “11 Deadly Diseases that Hopped Across Species”, and “COVID-19 Coronavirus Epidemic has Natural Origins.” These stories purport that conditions humans impose on creatures are creating variables that are leading to disease. Zoonotic diseases are not new; anthrax, salmonella, and giardia are more commonly known versions. The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome nCoV-19 is novel and the pathogen may be linked to industrialized farming. In China, both wild and domesticated animals (civets, pigs, pangolins, cats, cows, buffalos, goats, sheep and pigeons) are farmed and then sold live, creating a vitriolic “conversation” between animals and their consumers. In the western United States, we have herds of wild bighorn sheep dying of pneumonia contracted from their domestic and vaccinated counterparts, as well as concerns about humans contracting Chronic Wasting Disease from deer and elk.  Here in Spokane we have a newly opened restaurant called “Hunt” serving rabbit and elk that is farm raised. Do wild elk commingle with the farm raised herds? As we sequester, we enjoy hearing stories of wild animals coming into town, but is this good for them? Is it all a tale of consequence?  Can less industrial human impact create a jubilee year for animals?  I have a lot of questions to explore and expound upon.”

Wilderment, glass and hardware, 2020, 14.5×19.5×5 inches, $3000.  Second of three pieces currently on display in the Bryan Oliver Gallery.

I asked Katie to provide a little more information about “Wilderment”, and she responded with this, “I wanted this piece to appear sweet and inviting to the viewer with some sort of strange plants and textures to land on.  The ram is opaque, like the rest of the landscape – belonging to it, but implicated because of his size and power – which maybe makes him seem like a “bad guy”.  The sheep are sort of sparkly and innocent wandering into the scene.  What happens next? Probably the ram gets infected with a flu from the immunized lambs and the wild herd he came from needs to be culled.  I don’t put this in the work – it’s too depressing, but I do like setting the stage for what could happen next.”

As a reminder, here is Katies 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.

We hope you enjoyed this second post about Katie and her work.  Tomorrow we will look at the third and final piece she presented in this exhibit. 


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