Author Archives: Kat

S/WORD, 2021

multimedia audio/video installation at Alice R. Rogers and Target Galleries, Saint John’s Art Center, SJU

S/WORD and Letter to Baba are companion works which probe the power and efficacy of words and guns in a world consigned to both. S/WORD draws from our deep history with the written word and tools of war and presents both as weaponized figures on paper scrolls. Letter to Baba is a video work seen as both documentary and diary, at once profoundly personal, yet speaking to universal truth and fear.

Pen, 2021
Rotring “Red Ring” German manufacturing company mechanical drafting pencil, (original design 1928)
12” x 12” x 6”

In the beginning was word and sword, one begetting the other. 

In opposition they appear as in a duel, but as equals on the scroll they are co-conspirators in conflict and resolution, and conflict again, bearing witness one to the other. Fearful weapons borne by warriors of hope, scrolls of law and banners of war, unfurling, time and again.

Blood and ink spill to the same ground.

Yet with the scroll there is no page to turn, no past to move beyond. What gets recorded, reminded, and what fades away into shadows and scars, becomes the ghost of the future. Can we learn to linger in the space between the bleed lines, or breathe life into the rift and wreckage left behind and waiting ahead?

Pistol, 2021
Walther P.38 decommissioned German designed semi-automatic WWII pistol, 1939
9” x 5.5” x 1.5”

S/WORD, 2020
multimedia audio/video installation at Saint John’s Art Center, SJU

Bleed Lines, 2020
linocut press prints on book production waste paper rolls
6’-10” x 1’-0”

Unbound – Black Book, 2020
book cover, linocut ghost prints on book production waste paper cuts
6″ x 9″ x 3″

Letter to Baba, 2020
HD video projection
09:23

In this beginning is a word, daughter to father. “Baba?” 

It is a simple inquiry, a request for presence and assurance in troubled times. Nothing is written. There is no paper, no pen, nor gun nor sword, just a word, spoken plainly, if not plaintively, of one seeking wisdom and insight from the past in order to illuminate what is now, in full measure, the nearness to war.

The tender voice tinged with curiosity, fear and resignation, probes histories, close at hand and universal, for shards of truth in a world fractured and tilted badly off axis.

Ghost Prints – Black Board Homework, 2020
linocut press prints of the first lesson in Farsi Alphabets: A & B creating the word Āb: water and B & A creating the word BĀBĀ: dad
8.5″ x 11″ each

Ghost Prints – Flat File Homework, 2020
retrieved art historical slides from St. John Visual Library archives, linocut press prints of the first lesson in Farsi Alphabets: A & B creating the word Aab: water and B & A creating the word BĀBĀ: dad
5″ x 7″ each

DIY: Homemaking


Brick- Break- Bread, 2019
32” x 16’ x 30”
multimedia installation at South Dakota Museum of Art
repurposed pallet wood, cast iron wheels, construction bricks, handmade bricks with bread mortar

Brick – Break – Bread is a reflection on the two widely used English and Farsi idiomatic expressions: “breaking bread” & “turning someone’s bread to brick”. While the former is an affirmation of trust and conviviality between friends or strangers, the latter speaks about mistrust and is spoken in response to a perceived threat or barrier to one’s economic security or personal well-being. In both cases bread is seen as essential to life, indeed as the staff of life.  Brick, barrow, bread; pallet wood, wheel and ceramics; singular objects gathered as a testament to the embodied labor of home building and home making. Are these the component parts of a wall of division or a home of solidarity, the barrier of otherness or the refuge of family? 

To break bread is to share the body, our body, in an act of solidarity and communion, and to share the body implies a cultural ecology of interdependence. As the yeast bread rises in the fissures binding bricks or fracturing dreams, the question here is whether a common culture in bread and body, neither the singularity of mine nor the otherness of yours, can rise above and break the wall between us?

Brick- Breads, 2019
hand-packed earthenware clay bricks, bread dough mortar

Garden: Recalling Paradise

Nervous System, 2019
video projection, cast porcelain, gold luster
50” x 50” x 12”

Nervous System is a ceramic, video, and audio installation consisting of a floor projection of a single aerial view of a toilet bowl. Inside the bowl swim two goldfish. The video is set on a loop, and the fish circle without end. Ceramic ewers with golden spouts surround the projected image. In the background is the sound of a toilet flushing at random intervals, echoing in the space. 

This bowl flickers with the movement of the two goldfish, trapped in the still water, circling and probing the edge. One pushes sideways along the shallow shelf as if to beach itself or climb from the bowl into the light The other ducks repeatedly into the deeper recess and protection of the bowl’s throat, and into the darkness..Occasionally their bodies circle, head to tail, tracing a very improbable yin and yang. It is both peaceful and disquieting, as if dread is hidden in the fold of serenity.

With the sound of the rushing vacuum of a toilet flushing, you look to the safety of the fish. Still there. Still trapped. Still, you know, this isn’t what it seems.

Nervous System is a meditation on bearing witness to an impending rupture, yet one that is too distant for you to act. Your agency is removed, and you become an impotent observer, presented with the anxiety and dread of watching something beyond your power to change. You are not the fish, but can feel the fragile state, the vulnerability within the protective sphere, as the sphere becomes the state, the cause of disruption and failure.

Ewers stand like solders in a protective ring, backs to the bowl, gold arms like gun barrels at the ready. Empty vessels resolute and singular in their duty to shield this spring, this life, but what flickers there is a thin wave of light over barren ground, a memory of what once was, perhaps a dream. Water, if at all, exists in your ears, fills your head, rinses clean and washes away with each repeated flush, erasing any hope you had for the fish or a life brimming.

The Garden, 2019
ceramics, audio and video installation at Katherine E. Nash Gallery

The Garden strictly seen, is a collection of objects, gathered from disparate times and places, yet ready to hand and familiar, and common in the world of their origin. Some carry with them their use and histories, and their muted voices of daily ritual cleansing, largely hidden from view, as required by the proscriptions of cultural etiquette, while at the same time indicating a more profound ethnic and cultural cleansing, as if an existential component of “being soiled”. 

The Garden is the myth turned on its head, and proposes an alternate view: alluring, tempting, beautiful, fruitful, yet very nearly dead, with its “heart… swollen under the sun”. It proposes that the project of democracy is an idea not a promise: mutable, fragile, and at this moment, hanging by a thread.

Rootwash, 2019

It’s the Fishes’ Problem, 2019

Toilet Brush, 2019
16 1/2” x 4” x 4”
porcelain, gold luster, gear motor

To cleanse, wash out, scrub, whiten, blanch, purge, sanitize, absolve, clarify, disinfect, sterilize, launder, bleach, decolorize, rinse, purify, suppress, vindicate, refine, depurate, release, liberate, restore, lustrate, and shine.

Silent Scream

Tie A Not, 2019
red ties, nail, cast porcelain hot water bottles

Silent Scream, 2018
durational multimedia installation at Quarter Gallery, Regis Center for the Arts, UMN
cast porcelain hot water bottles, cast ice, chains, video projection

Silent Scream: Affect of Life in Suspension is a durational and immersive ceramics and video installation. The impending shatter of clay bodies frozen in ice, presents a sense of contingency and precariousness in viewers; the anticipation of fracture. Here the systemic failures, fragilities, and unpredictabilities of living in this historical moment is felt bone-deep before the truth of it is fully, mindfully apprehended.

Silent Scream – video projection

Domestic Affairs

Domestic Affairs investigates the idea of home in body, structure and land, and explores the culturally embedded promise of security and hope engendered in the archetypal house. It explores a conceptual topography of “place”; it is a kind of domestic archeology.

The exploration of the concept of home can reveal deeply ambiguous and complex phenomena: its interface with identity, its connections to security vs openness to difference and other, it can embody the sense of inclusion/exclusion, freedom/incarceration, movement/entrapment, displacement and belonging.

We tend to map the contours of security and safety into the image of home as a protective refuge, a shelter from the storm, as if they were the essential constituent parts of making a home. If so then what becomes of the homeless, the unmooring of the subjects of exchangeable labor, the children born into diaspora, those that live in the cracks, fissures and shadows of the world; what happens to those consigned to forage through the wasteland of broken promises? What happens when we live in fear or hatred of otherness, homelessness, of alterity?

When you wake from the dream and realize, it’s too late, 2019
emergency blankets, copper tubing, needle and thread, root, Egyptian paste molded with Gladware container lid
3’ 6” x  5’ x 7’

In Your Backyard – installation & video projection, 2018

Helter Shelter
Copper tubing, emergency blankets, needle and thread, video projection
3’ 6” x  5’ x 7’

This work explores the contours of home as the protective refuge and sheltering eave, and the promise of security and hope engendered in the archetypal house. Yet it is conflated with the vulnerability of the body, skin and bones: fragile, naked, and exposed. As the world’s history of conflict falls like rain, a rift is sewn then torn again, a roof breached with the pulsing light of the rockets glare, the sirens of emergency ring. This always closer than you imagine.

Blues of the Glad Tree
Poplar tree, oil barrel, Persian blue paste, welding rods, sand
6’ x 6’ x 9’

This work ties the tree in our yard to global dominion. The sheltering shade troubled by the dislocation of the sour root and bitter fruit.

It’s a Fine Line Between
Egyptian faience, gold luster
12 in. x 8 in. x 3 in. each

The line separates or binds: a balance point, a hinge, a margin of safety or distance to fear. It’s a fine line between there or here.

House Charms and Oven Charms, 2018
14″ x 10.5″ x 1.2” each pan
Egyptian faience amulets, muffin pans

One Window – installation & video projection, 2018
video projection, emergency blanket, cloths pins

 The translucent and reflective material of the Emergency blanket in this installation serves as a screen for projection of the One Window video. The sound component are the readings of Forough Farokhzad’s poem by a male and a female voice reading same poem in Farsi and English. The voices are slightly out of rhythm, on the edge of discordant as if waves from two seas meeting, yet both being water, if you listen closely to the longer cycle they find the contrapuntal pacing, word for word. In an abandoned attic where only one window faintly lights the room, a nude female body conceals herself with an emergency blanket. The action is repeatedly reversed while the sound component of Forough Farokhzad’s poem readings weave in and out of one another.

One Window
HD video | 04:23

In the Shelter of the Window
HD video | 04:23

Gate, 2017
90″ x 48″ x 8″ (sand circle: 108″ in diameter)
cast concrete, cast porcelain, plexiglass, steel armature, sand

Wall, 2017
17’ 6” x 6’ 8” x  8”
plexiglass, cast porcelain door knobs, concrete blocks

Cart, 2017
60” x 60” x 38” (installation size varies based on the space)
shopping cart, cast porcelain

Hood, 2017

Picket, 2017

From A to Be

This Side | water | That Side, 2018
Durational installation, Porcelain Slip
1′-6″ x 28′-0″ 

The word ‘water’ is written in porcelain slip in Farsi and thus language and water (river) become border and barrier, eroded then erased through passage of time and transgressional crossings.

Sense of Nonsense, 2017
Performance/Video stills – wood-ash, twine, sheaves of grass
20′ diameter

This work was a site-specific performance made in collaboration with Anna Van Voorhis at Center of the Periphery in Buch am Wald, Bavaria. The performance centered on themes of cyclical histories, female labor and erasure. Two are bodies bound to each other in a circle of ash. Two languages and two histories are written, then one is erased and and the other exposed.

Muddy Truth

Examination Wall | Rose-Needle, 2017

Examination Wall | Body-River, 2017

She Left to Pick up Flowers, 2017

Current Content, 2017

Ophelia’s Dream, 2017

The Names We Change

Naming is the first act of calling into being and thus one of the original signifiers of identity formation, placing the individual in contextual relationship with culture, race, gender, and ethnicity. It is a symbolic contract between the individual and society and confirms the individual’s existence and society’s obligation and responsibility to the individual, and the individual’s implicit acceptance to the society.

Our history precedes us through our name as a kind of referential boundary, yet also liberates us to our self-identity, wherein our own meanings and aspirations well up and push through the membranes and layers of history, gender, culture and memories. It is an act of unfolding that is at once dynamic, creative and original, yet one whose origination is also fixed to family, language, history and place.

The Names We Change is a series of video interviews investigating myriad responses from those in marginalized communities, immigrants, diasporas, and LGBTQ communities to identity transformation in the way first names are kept or changed. To the sometimes leveling effect of cultural hegemony these responses can be seen as erasures or disclosures, as sites of rebellion or acceptance. This project is interested in discovering both coherence and fracture; of how our names gather our sense of belonging, yet can also become a source of tension, contradiction and rupture, or humor and creative negotiation.

Within these interviews one will hear the arbitration of identity as a lived experience that can range in discourse and effect from responses of efficacy, humor and  convenience, to deflection and deviation, to resistance, opposition and provocation, to those of a deeper personal grounding.

The responses to this are as varied as the people that usher them in to being. Frequently one will then have two or more names that correlate to the circumstance of use. Indeed as seen in some of the interviews there is a “Starbucks” name: convenient, easy to pronounce, disposable. As one of the interviewees notes: “You can be anybody at Starbucks.”

This project serves as a platform for marginalized voices to engage with the public in a dialogue of reciprocal awareness and insight, and share in an experience that can be fraught with the sense of otherness and alienation, yet often met with remarkable personal creativity and humor. The intention is to begin to build bridges where gaps and rifts may be the norm. These are small, but not insignificant, gestures of community and conviviality.

The Names We Change video interviews, 2017- 2019

The Names We Change: Transit-Air, 2020

installation at Catherine G. Murphy Gallery
re-purposed airplane seats, iPads, HD video interviews, Namezines
6.5’ x 8’x 4’ 

The Names We Change: Transit-Land, 2020
participatory storytelling & recording booth at Catherine G. Murphy Gallery
re-purposed shipping container, tea kettle, Starbucks coffee cups
7’ x 7’x 3.5’

 

The Nightingale and the Rose

In literature and decorative arts, Nightingale and Rose is a metaphor for the beloved and lover par excellence; the rose is beautiful, proud, and often cruel, while the bird sings endlessly of longing and devotion. The Nightingale and the Rose series brings the ancient motif of Nightingale and Rose (Gol-o-Bolbol) to the contemporary setting, addressing the dynamics of food, economy and human relationships in our evermore-globalized world. This series contemplates the role of power structure in interpersonal relationships as well as international relations; where the asymmetrical relationship of bird and flower echoes from individual level to family, state, national and international political systems.

Nightingale & Rose installation at Hair & Nails Gallery, 2019

Where Red Tulips Grow, 2019

Chicken & Egg, 2018

Pillow Talks, 2017

Nightingale and Rose Souvenirs, 2017

Nightingale and Rose Souvenirs is a discourse on collectibles, the nick-knack shelf, the gilt teacups, the precious object, and home-making.

Cairns and way-finding to culture, 2017

Nightingale and Feathers, 2017

A humorous riff on the Nightingale perched in his aerie, regal, aloof, an object aloft; Mohammed, Buddha, Messiah, Autocrat, with acolytes and subjects at his feet; the privilege of bronze, suspended, subtended by the common object. Feathers spill; the antipathy of current politics, the rift that divides, the body that gathers, of us versus them, perhaps a false binary where under the patriotic pin, the show of colors, it’s the same old chicken, (tarred) and feathered.

A bird is three things:
Feathers, flight and song,
And feathers are the least of these. –Marjorie Allen Seiffert

Re Member Dis, 2017

Remember: To bring to mind, to bear in mind.
Dismember: To sever limbs, partition, divide.
Member: To belong to a family, group, or tribe; Constituent piece; limb, organ.

The Audience, 2016

The Nightingale and The Rose, 2016

Where the kiln fire fixes into permanence and durability, water incises and dissolves, holds potentiality in suspension. This proposes a death before life, a redirection. This is an invitation of image slipping into image, of returning the materiality of the object to itself, its original nature. It is an exploration of that elemental destructive unfolding, that beautiful death.

Bed of Roses, 2016

This is the time: the time of making and un-making, the real time dissolve of green-ware in rose-water, a material investigation, a sacrifice; the body in the limiting frame; the Rose – water and blood – the life and death of the Nightingale.

Blow of Mercy, 2016

The Devotion (n + 1), 2016

(n + 1) intends to be both a comic and ironic study of the idea of devotion: to nation, religion, family or even devotion to an idea itself. This work contemplates the role of power structure in interpersonal relationships as well as international relations; where the asymmetrical relationship of bird and flower echoes from individual level to family, state, national and international political systems.

Disjointed Nations, 2016

All Flags are Made in China, 2016

Council of the Birds, 2016

In the Time of Roses, 2016