Features Visual Arts

Kathryn Hart: On the Move

Transitions, Tangled Webs, Tranquility and Flight Paths

“Derailed”
“Derailed” Installation, 87 x 104 x 38 inches, wire, twine, glass objects, handmade paper, wood, metal mesh, mixed media and found objects

 Kathryn Hart is on the move. Again. Her recent travels and exhibitions include New York City, Los Angeles, Warsaw, France, Spain and Italy. However, her last show in 2018 took place in Krakow, Poland, a month-long event that exhibited nearly 80 artworks. For someone whose background is scientific (surgery/medicine/microbiology), one would hardly guess that she might be a candidate for an artistic profession. 

Guess again. Entitled “Daunting Transitions,” it was aptly named. Hart’s work is both autobiographical and abstract of both ideas and emotions. The works here express the aftermath of personal upheaval she says, and the process of integration and overcoming. As she explains it, “The underpinnings of my identity were shaken…an onslaught of happenings obliterated my flightpath.” 

Not for long. “Daunting Transitions” “delves into the tension between searching for and investigating evolving identity, and the burden and fear of making a decision.” 

The wire “constructs” perhaps best convey that search. Stretched taut in every direction, the surgically knotted wires are integral to Hart’s narrative, suggesting the conflict in coming to terms with the strictures of sorrow. Like her father’s sutures, they both heal and conceal. “I use this language in my work; knots can be entanglements, junctures, bindings, obstacles, hurdles, gates, coupling and memories. Some knots hold strong (heal) while others can slide (conceal and yield). Making the installation primarily of lines and knots is a bit like making lace….It is both delicate and strong. It is the sum of its parts, yet each line and knot is deliberately placed. Making it is a form of meditation.” A lacework of life. The wires recall the strings of violins or cellos— an orchestral composition of sorts, a fugue that both embraces and escapes. “Lines,” she says, “are also tangled emotions, truths, a web of stories.” Indeed, what tangled webs she weaves. There is a silent music here, one that is heard with the eyes. 

Even the arabesque of shadows cast upon the wall are part and parcel of these artworks— visual echoes seen, if not heard. Echoes that resonate, sometimes muted, sometimes sharp depending on the ambient light. The shadows hover, move and mutate. 

“The wire structure is a type of exoskeleton. The shadows intertwine with both the sculptures and their shadow selves.” Shadows here are intrinsic to the work, not an afterthought. “They are equally important and symbolize both beacons and footprints.“ Sometimes, at high noon perhaps, they are invisible to the naked eye, but not to the naked soul. 

The show displays an array of media: site-specific installations, ink drawings, wire sculptures, paper wall sculptures, mixed media paintings and small assemblage sculptures. Using primarily line, space, dimensionality and gesture, all of them examine “dichotomies of movement and stillness, contemplation and decision, space and line, search and decision.” Hart’s works conjure up the inner solace of the healing heart—a new breath of oxygen and rebirth. “I can tell,” she says of her work, “when it starts to breathe on its own.” 

“Lines reveal potential paths ahead and the scars of the ones just followed. Line represents journey, connections, strength, simplicity, tethers, choice, veins and channels.” They “symbolize energy, veins, structure and connections.” Hart’s connections scan “through time and space.” But there are also “apertures, openings and portholes. “The spaces between the lines [of the} wire sculptures are places of rest and contemplation…Places to escape.” 

Cellular Series
Cellular Series, wire sculptures

All the works in “Daunting Transitions” were four years in the making. “Each different media is a path I followed, a branch of the same road…In hindsight, I realized it was all connected.” 

First came the paper sculptures— handmade paper that was crumpled, torn, twisted and often turned inside out. Entitled “Parse; Toss or Place #1, #2,” etc. They represented the vetting of memories, demanding that some be eliminated to make space for new ones. 

Then came the wire sculptures—“The Cellular Collection”—that used the found rib bones as well as wire and mixed media. “These were the new outgrowth, a new beginning starting with the most simple, single-celled organisms.” 

Ink Drawing No 29
Ink Drawing No 29_12x9 inches ink on toned paper

The Installation (“Derailed”) and the 29 ink drawings on toned paper were created during the same period when she would work back and forth between the two. They fed each other, she says. “They (the ink drawings) are meant to be seen as a whole, yet each is a complete artwork.” Ink images, like watercolors, are indelible. “Each line is a choice that cannot be undone, yet the drawings must be freely done, almost without thought, or they look stilted and constrained. Each [one] is lyrical…offers a glimpse of inner energy. As a grid, they are a taxonomy of internal drive.” 

“Derailed” is a site-specific installation, composed of “commonplace materials, hundreds of lines, wires and embedded glass objects. The form is stretched taut and tattered by competing forces: the desire to move forward vs. indecision and the burden of choice.” It is “distended, pulled and propelled outward, yet it is held constrained. The entity represents me.” 

The “me” also includes a “floor” comprised of torn pieces of unaffixed handmade paper randomly laid on a metal mesh scaffold. “The paper elements float, sway, or even fall to the ground with any slight turbulence of air.” 

Hart’s works are all about moving forward and the tenacity of the human spirit. “Changing, morphing, redefining is part of being human.” The wire sculptures incorporate rib bones, mostly deer, she says. “Rib bones protect the heart…graceful line and full of energy.” The heart is precisely what Hart is all about.  Kathryn Hart has taken flight and has made, once again, a three-point landing. She has, without a doubt, found a new flightpath. Again. 

—Diane Root

Ink Drawings Grid
Ink Drawings Grid

“Daunting Transitions,” a solo show by Kathryn Hart at Kotlownia Galeria, Politechnika Krakowska, Krakow, Poland was exhibited September 17-October 17, 2018. This show was organized and co-curated by Dr. Krystyna Malinowska and Basha Maryanska (awarded the 2018 Golden Owl for Visual Art).

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