#99: Katie Caron
In her current work, artist Katie Caron looks down on the earth from above to show how humans live with the environmental mess they’ve made in the name of progress, using the very materials of progress — waste rubber, polystyrene, plastics and silicone — to tell her story. But here on earth, she’s an educator with an eye on the future of art fabrication, a committed member of the studio community at the Temple and now, part of the stable at William Havu Gallery. Caron gets serious about all that and more as she takes on the 100CC questionnaire.
Westword: If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
Katie Caron: Eva Hesse, because of her exploration of materiality and psychological spaces. She took so many risks despite her anxiety and fears. Her intensity and exploration of abstraction are so inspiring to my process. I feel she is a kindred spirit.
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
Landscape photographer David T. Hanson and his powerful depictions of the American landscape and how it has been transformed and despoiled by our industrial and military culture. I have been studying his aerial photographs of Superfund sites for my recent work titled “Heteropias.” A heterotopia is a physical representation or approximation of a utopia, or a parallel space that contains undesirable bodies to make a real utopian space possible. Colorado is one of the most polluted states in the nation, the worst Superfund sites being Rocky Flats, Rocky Mountain Arsenal, Lincoln Park in Cañon City, and California Gulch in Leadville.
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
Leaning boards up against the wall. I call it the “anti-aesthetic” art movement. Believe it or not, I have seen this approach a dozen times — across the country, at museums, galleries and even art fairs. Not a painting, but a painted piece of plywood leaning against the wall. I have little interest in this type of trendy art where artists seem to be imitating the approaches of other trendy artists.
What's your day job?
I am head of ceramics and 3D at the Arapahoe Community College Art & Design Center. Teaching and inspiring my students to have an inner creative life, face their fears and take risks is an important part of my life. I encourage them to see the world outside of the habits and culture they are born into in order to gain a new perspective in their work.
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
Design my dream studio the scale of a warehouse space, with all the necessary tools and equipment, such as laser cutter, CNC, 3D printers, woodshop, sound and video studio, kilns, etc. Make whatever I want to make and not worry about the cost of fabrication and materials. Plan exhibitions all over the world in order to travel and share my work with the global community. Have a gallery to support other notable artists and exhibitions. Mentor multiple studio assistants. Set up a foundation through Greenpeace and other environmental agencies to support cleanup efforts and cultural interventions. Oh, what a fantasy!
Denver, love it or leave it? What keeps you here — or makes you want to leave?
I love the close art community in Denver, and feeling like you are really part of something. RedLine has been a huge support for me, as well as my colleagues from the Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design, ACC and the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities. The Temple, where my studio is, has also been very open and supportive. Being part of William Havu Gallery has helped me with the business side of art, which I always have struggled with.
The open skies, landscape, sun and visual perspective of the West is what lured me here from the East Coast. I get very depressed in the “six months of darkness” that are New England winters. The rising cost of living here, though, and not being able to afford the home and studio I need makes it hard to stay. Also, my entire family is from back east, and with young children, it’s hard being so far away.
What's the one thing Denver could do to help the arts?
Affordable housing and live/work spaces for families. Stipends for artists to help with material and fabrication costs.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
My husband, Kevin Caron, who is a comic book artist and illustrator. He is part of the independent comic scene in Denver and a member of the Blacktail Collective. His technical skills at drawing, visual narrative and inking are impeccable. He works all night long on his art, so during the day he can make money and take care of our two young children. He is very humble. I always say he’s the real artist in the family.
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
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I am helping create and run a new MakerSpace at ACC next academic year, in addition to running our large ceramics program. I am excited to learn new software and tools in order to build my personal practice. I will also be applying to a number of grants in the hope that they will help fund a personal studio and material costs. I am in the planning stages for a new installation at PlatteForum in 2018, and I’m interested in curating an exhibition about “place” in response to the global environmental crisis.
Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts community in the coming year?
My dear friend and colleague Angela Farris Belt, who is a very talented and smart photographer. Her work “examines photographic media's phenomenological relationship…between humankind and the natural world…through the physics of time, the balance between light energy and sensitivity to it, as well as chemical interaction.” Her work is stunning.
See new work by Katie Caron in the group show Fabricating Nature, on view through August 5 at William Havu Gallery. There will be a Final Friday reception from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, June 30. Learn more about Katie Caron and her work online.