Q&A with resident artist Katy Ann Gilmore
Viewing Katy Ann Gilmore’s magnificently detailed work in person is powerful. In her intimate line work, there’s rarely an arbitrary move — theories of mathematics disguise themselves inside of topography, spatial relationships and dimensions (both seen & unseen). In pen work, painting and three-dimensional installations, Gilmore’s work represents a clearly cohesive body of work that’s minimalist without muting detail. It’s art made for a modern world. There’s nothing lost in translation from whether you’re sizing up her large scale 3D installations or double-tapping a square-cropped image of pen & acrylic ink on paper.
Gilmore’s Instagram is an ongoing, ever changing curated art exhibition refreshing right before your eyes. And, in 2016, it’s not hard to see the power of the platform for an emerging artist — in fact, Gilmore owes some of her success to it — but her contributions bring a renewed excitement to the idea of social media as a serious tool for witnessing the evolution of an artist.
We spoke with Gilmore about succeeding in the digital age, the importance of reaching out into the real world, how mathematics & architecture influence her body of work and what her expectations are for her upcoming exhibit at Red Bull House of Art.
Your work seems to exist in two realms — the impact of seeing it large scale as a mural or an installation in a gallery, and extremely digestible format of seeing it pop up in a social feed. How has social media impacted your career as an artist?
It’s been interesting to learn how to share and what to share, like how to share small paintings and then a 10-foot mural on the same platform. It seems to be a good avenue to share what I make… and I’m excited to see, too, what happens in another year. It’s been a lot of hard work and things have aligned in amazing ways that I couldn’t of anticipated. It’s important to reach out beyond the virtual world, though, and make real life connections. Because that’s how an opportunity like [Red Bull House of Art] came to be.
Before focusing on your artwork full time, you studied mathematics and briefly considered becoming an architect. Do you see your interests in both fields coming through in your art?
I’ve always had reservations about jumping into art full time and thought I needed to do the full grown adult thing. In late 2014, I had a full time job while completing my MFA. It helped me get through school, but it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I decided to quit that job before having another one lined up. When I was looking for jobs early last year, I thought I would use Instagram as an outlet to try and sell little drawings. That sort of took off from there.
Having a background in mathematics, I’ve been working with paintings that focus a lot on these portals connecting two different universes. You learn some pretty weird stuff about the way the world is [when studying mathematics], and I really got into dimensions and the way we see the world from what may actually be there. I’ve wanted to integrate that more stylistically with my thoughts on how landscapes and landforms relate to another.
How has landscape and topography influenced your work?
Growing up in the Midwest, the landscape is very flat. I actually made the drive from St. Louis to Los Angeles to see the landscape change and realized how much I wanted to get back to the mountains. I’ve always been interested in how this flat, level land and the relationship between the forms of those mountains. It’s super cool to think about it geographically as well.
At your upcoming exhibit at Red Bull House of Art, what impressions are you hoping the audience takes away from seeing your work in person? Is there an expectation that they’ll see some of the mathematical theories that inform your work?
If I talk about it in relationship to a drawing, sometimes people get it. If they did get the concept and looked at the world in a new, interesting way and translated that to their environment, I’d be totally fine with that. I think, too, if someone does or doesn’t understand it, I really just want people to say, “wow, that’s cool.” I want to invoke a sense of curiosity, and I approach every piece from a scientific aspect of asking, “what if this? What if that?” And there’s definitely trial and error and experimentation to what I’m trying to make. If they think about the world in a new way, that’s all I can ask — to have a sense of curiosity and ask more questions about the things that are around them.
By Ryan Patrick Hooper