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Katya Maria Cohen

Clemson, SC

When faced with writing an artist statement she often becomes paralyzed. She asked herself what her work is all about, and more often than not come up empty-handed, or more specifically, empty-minded. Her work seems to be about everything and about nothing. In trying to explain it, words don’t so much fail her as they keep missing the mark, and she is made aware of what poor tools they are for artists to use in describing their artistic production. To resort to an old cliché, a picture (or twenty) is worth a thousand words. Trying to come up with a concise verbal description of what she does is discouraging at best. Add to that the words of Theodor Adorno that “everything about art has become problematic: it’s inner life, it’s relation to society, even its right to exist”, and she feels like quitting art altogether. Yet, she keeps making “the stuff”. And unlike trying to come up with words about it, making art and seeking it out is not discouraging at all, au contraire, it is life affirming. It might be that in the end, current theory notwithstanding, the medium really is the message...

The strategies she used to talk about her works in the past have always involved her talking around the work. She finds that doing this gets her to the core of the work better than trying to talk directly about it. She had decided to, once again, take that tack and write a bit about the process of her work instead of trying to describe its content, for its content is partly born out of process.

She is essentially a printmaker, even though it has been a while since she had engaged purely in the making of prints. For the past few years, she has mostly painted, collaged, and made a book that took her three years to complete. But the reason she thinks of herself as primarily a printmaker is because no matter what medium she is involved with, she approaches all image/art-making with methodological strategies similar to those used to produce a print. She invents barriers for herself: pictorial, conceptual and physical constraints that, like the process of printmaking, have to be dealt with and which adds a distancing element to the process of painting. Using this methodology she finds that she ends up constructing her paintings piece-meal, not unlike the production of a print. This strategy allows her to distance herself from her imagery and to view her content more objectively. The content becomes part of the process and vice versa (no news here).

She finds that she cannot make art if she doesn't include in the making of it this kind of distancing process. Her work looks the way it does precisely because of such strategies. The initial content is born of life experiences, but the final product is a result of thought and emotion tempered and transformed by process; a process that because of its “stop and go” approach ends up giving her work its look.
Wescover creator since 2020

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