Kate Snow (she/her/hers)
“When I got severely sick in 2020 and had to stop working, I felt like I'd lost everything - my identity, agency, and independence. I can say quite honestly that, at that time, art literally saved my life.”
Kate’s art is a conglomerate of many techniques and methods, but at the heart, reflects a stylized, design-focused aesthetic that demonstrates a simplified view of the world around us. Kate feels that she always viewed the world through an artistic lens – drawn to color, pattern, and expansive ideas. She shares, “I drew constantly and took art lessons as a kid, but then backed away from art in high school, intimidated by other students I felt were more talented than I.” The interest never left her, however, and the spark reignited when she had the opportunity to take her first photography class in community college. “It was the first time I was introduced to formal elements of art - rules and building blocks - and it blew my mind,” she says.
Kate became exposed to many influences and inspirations that made up the scaffolding of her artistic practice. Academically, she recalls learning about the rule of thirds and being introduced to the design work of Agnes Martin and Anselm Kiefer, insights that prompted lightbulb moments in her artistic practice. She went on to spend years in a shared printmaking studio where she learned from master printers, teaching artists, and hobbyists. She even explored pottery after exchanging production work for studio time.
Before she became an artist, Kate was diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome, Fibromyalgia and other forms of chronic illness. Despite the diagnosis and physical ailments, she tried to keep pushing herself as hard as she could. Even when she did turn to art, she didn’t see her illness as a barrier. Kate explains, “For many years I didn’t see it as influencing my work or my practice. In fact, in spite of it keeping me from completing my art degree and limiting my employment opportunities, I saw it as completely separate.”
That changed in 2020 when a dramatic downturn in her health left her virtually housebound. Out of necessity, she resigned from her job, gave up social activities, and stopped making art. “I spent the next year healing, waiting to “get back to normal”. After a year of no change, however, I got tired of waiting. I began to realize normal wasn’t coming, and my only way back into the studio was to accept and work within my limitations.” Despite being only physically able to make art for 20 minutes to an hour at a time, she returned to painting, printing and creating with new passion.
Kate’s work is very process-driven, so the making of it is as important as the final product. The way she works is both methodical and meditative - whether it's printmaking, collage, or pointillism. She details, “These are, in many ways, labors of love. Slow meditative work where the materials and process are very much collaborators and the pieces unfold organically.” Her process of making new work varies, depending on the medium and scale. For printmaking, she often starts with a sketch. For pointillism pieces, she starts with the size of the panel and uses that to help guide how she utilizes the space. She likes restrictions and rules to help give her boundaries which prompt ideas how the piece should be formed.
Material wise, she is drawn to gouache as her go-to. She shares, “It has a unique way of behaving that is unlike any other paint I've used. The pigments are incredibly vibrant but completely flat and consistent, almost reminiscent of a screen print.” With Kate’s experience and love for printmaking, this quality was key. “At the same time, it also works perfectly for pointillism, thick enough to sit on top of the paper, creating a slight relief, with an almost braille-like texture,” she goes on to say. The versatility and structure of this material creates harmony across her portfolio and mediums.
Kate is inspired to take complex visual data and reduce it to its more basic elements. She describes her inspiration as coming from everywhere and nowhere simultaneously. Ideas for new work may arise from cracks on sidewalks, screenshots taken from nature documentaries, or the new collections of fellow artists. Still, Kate finds a way to focus in, illuminate the subject, and transform it to fit her modus operandi.
“While my style has and will continue to evolve over time, there are undeniable threads that will always be present. Whether I am working with abstract elements of design - shapes, color, etc - or creating representational work, I rely on a stylized, design-focused aesthetic. It's a stripped-down approach that reflects a simplified (or clarified) view of the world around us. This is true regardless of medium, as well.”
Through creating, Kate has uncovered lessons and grown immensely. One of the hardest but most important lessons she learned is that you have to make a lot of bad work before you get to the good stuff. One of her favorite quotes is “if you want gold, you've got to be willing to go down in the mine.” Kate details, “I can't think of a better way to explain the process of making art: it's hard, it's painful, and gold is never guaranteed. We work on faith.” She also learned through art that her lens and her voice are both unique and valuable. While trusting oneself and artistic impulses is a lifelong journey, she feels herself making progress and gaining confidence.
Kate hopes that ArtLifting will propel her closer to her dream of being financially independent. Currently, much of her career is dedicated to the hustle: proposal writing, budgeting, seeking out opportunities, networking. “The possibility of having an advocate out in the marketplace is fantastic,” Kate exclaims. She is also excited by the mission and work ArtLifting is doing for disabled and unhoused artists. She expresses, “As disability has become more and more present in my own life, my interest in and dedication to disability justice and lifting up other disabled artists has grown in intensity.” Additionally, she feels strongly about racial justice and equality, reproductive justice and women's rights, and supporting the LGBTQ community and Trans rights.
Kate’s biggest accomplishments include raising her two kids and securing the position as co-Executive Director of the non-profit printmaking studio, Zygote Press, in 2018, a position which ended up being perfect for her. She dreams of a life without disability, sharing “even after more than twenty years of battling chronic illness, I still harbor fantasies of regaining full mobility, stamina, and agency. Of course, I know that's not an actual possibility, and the richness of my future depends on my willingness to observe the reality of my situation.” All in all, a focus on maintaining her health to the best of her ability and crafting a successful career remain top priorities. When Kate isn’t creating, she enjoys reading on her beloved Kindle, watching movies and listening to podcasts. When she is physically able, she loves to swim, go hiking with her husband, cook, and organize her home.
Prints by Kate Snow (she/her/hers)
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