Meet

Katrine Hildebrandt-Hussey

Where are you from and where do you reside?
I grew up in Northern New Jersey, but now live in Boston.
What’s your favorite part of living in Boston?
We love having access to great museums and restaurants while still being close to great escapes from the city along the coast. Most of our summer weekends are either spent in Cape Cod or Southern Maine on the water.
Do you find that your location strongly influences the direction of your work?
I have over the years taken paper and my tools with me on vacation and I do think that getting out of your studio influences and directs your work in different ways. A couple of weeks ago we vacationed in the Catskills and my husband took our son Grey fly fishing. I got lost in the ripples created by the fly hitting the water and began sketching those patterns out. I am currently working on a series that explores those patterns for a show I am putting together in October.
What necessities do you require when making your art?
Windows open, radio on, rulers, compasses, pencils, x-acto knife, and my wood burning tools.
You have a particularly unique process for creating your artwork. What led you to this process and how did you know it was the right one to pursue?
I started cutting paper towards the end of grad school, it seemed like a logical way to go from sculpture/installation to work on paper. I could draw something out 2-d and then cut it out to create something 3-d. Then one day my instinct was to burn the 3-d paper cutout. That was risky and felt exciting to me–you know, spend several hours cutting something intricate out of paper and then put a flame to it and see what happens. I lost several pieces that way, or maybe not lost them, they still existed in one way or another, and I loved that. I was drawn to using the wood burning tool because I could have a little more control over the process, but there was still risk involved and the result still implied fire, fragility, and impermanence.
By the numbers, what percentage of your work would you say still goes up in flames?
Over the past couple of years I have dialed in the process and the timing off it all to prevent pieces from going up in flames. But, for precautionary measures, I always keep a bowl of water close by just in case!
What’s a typical day in the studio like for you?
Each studio days begins with coffee, first and always! While sipping coffee, I start with email correspondence or research, then plug in my wood burning tools, the exhaust system, and turn the radio on. Depending on where I left off the day before I either jump right into burning or laying out a new piece (which is one of my favorite parts of my process).
What considerations do you have when mapping out a new piece?
I almost always start a piece by finding the paper’s center and working outwards from that point. Symmetry has been my preferred formula for composition lately, but within that formula I consider balance, flow, scale, and proportion, emphasis, and repetition. Similar to the way Mandalas in many spiritual traditions are used as a tool for meditation and trance induction, my goal is to awaken consciousness through harmonious and stimulating patterns, often times inviting the viewer in through an entry way and leading them out through awareness of their own physical presence.
Slant
Symmetry has been my preferred formula for composition lately, but within that formula I consider balance, flow, scale, and proportion, emphasis, and repetition. — Katrine Hildebrandt-Hussey
What tangible objects or intangible moments are you most interested in representing through your works?
I am mostly interested in representing intangible moments and ideas like consciousness and impermanence through my work. How do we mark our existence in this world, how do we know we exist, where did we come from, where do we go–these are all questions that inform my work and I am seeking visual metaphors and methods for mapping those concepts.
What themes or motifs are you consistently drawn to?
Fragility, impermanence, and consciousness are themes that have recurred in my work for the past several years. Beginning years ago, with glassblowing, the idea of being able to let go has become so important to me. Glassblowing is a very demanding process, both mentally and physically. Some pieces required so much time and effort and then, just when you think you are done, you could get the glass too hot and it would slump, or it could get too cold and crack, or you could drop it days, weeks, or months later! I’m drawn to processes that teeter between control and chaos and I aim to marry the process with the end result. There is also an element of science and mapping in my work. I’m constantly drawn to diagrams and aim to utilize those visual tools to understand and translate ideas I am having about my own existence and place within the universe.
What is the most difficult part of the artistic process for you?
Stopping. I could work all day and night, but being a mom to two little boys means I have to share my attention. I function best with a regimented schedule and take advantage of every minute I can, that is why a home studio works best for me in my current daily life.
Slant
I’m drawn to processes that teeter between control and chaos and I aim to marry the process with the end result. — Katrine Hildebrandt-Hussey
How has your work developed in the past few years, and how do you see it evolving in the future?
I have shifted from sculpture and installation to work on paper over the years. A large part of that evolution involved having a family and working from home, but I have a strong desire to return to sculpture and working more with glass, steel and wood again. I enjoy being very physical with my work, learning new processes, and challenging my limits.
How do you choose your materials?
I’m drawn to materials that have a fragility to them, while requiring an intense process. In my earlier work, I used glass and steel, both of which require fire to create form. I was drawn to the juxtaposition of these two materials one being very light and airy and the other being heavy and solid. In the work I am currently doing there is that same juxtaposition of hard and soft, while using fire, a volatile process, to create drawings on paper.
How do you incorporate chance in your creative process?
Parts of the layout process are left to chance. At times it is very calculated and measured, but other times I may make a mistake or draw something out I wasn’t anticipating, and usually I go with it. Also, in pieces where I use ink washes the results are completely left to chance. I love the contrast between tight, mapped out lines and the loose, organic effects of the ink.
How important is spontaneity in your art?
The layout process is about 75% planned and 25% intuition and spontaneity. At times I wish I could be more spontaneous, but I suppose that’s not really my personality. I like things mapped out and planned for the most part.
Did you go to art school?
I have a BA in fine art from Hartwick College, and an MFA in sculpture from Massachusetts College of Art. After college, before grad school, I worked for a sculptor who created very large, outdoor metal sculptures. He taught me very much about what it required to be an artist: processes, organization, and planning. After grad school I directed an art gallery where I met so many talented artists and got an inside glimpse into how the art world ran. Both experiences have really shaped who I am as an artist and I am forever grateful.
Do you admire or draw inspiration from any of your peers who are also working now?
I admire so many of my peers and find inspiration in their work. Fellow Uprise artist, Christina Watka, is a friend and past colleague of mine. We have collaborated on a couple of projects together in the past and are brainstorming for another project in the future, stay tuned. My studio practice is very solitary. Camaraderie is the biggest thing I miss from the full-time job I left a year ago to pursue my art.
Is there any artwork on display in your home and studio?
My husband and I have collected many works over the years for our home including pieces by Nathaniel Russell, Andrew Schoultz, Hilary Pecis, Monica Canilao, Brian Willmont, Adriane Colburn, Jenny McGee Dougherty, just to name a few. I want more!
Do you remember the first work of art that captured your attention?
Yes! I remember finding two books in the library in college on Eva Hesse and Louise Bourgeois. Until that point I didn’t know any female artists who made sculpture. Their works were so visceral to me; the scale, the materials, and the fact that they were woman empowered me to explore such methods and themes. Their work will forever inform my work and inspire me.
Are you influenced by any artist that does something completely different than you?
I wish I read more than I do! I listen to a lot of music and just actually worked with a jazz musician, Mike Effenberger, to create an record album sleeve for his new album “The Repeatedly Answered Question” I found the process of listening to the music and creating something visually to reflect the repetition, structure and more improvisational elements to being really fun and challenging in an unexpectedly good way!
What’s one of your favorite objects you own? What’s the story?
When I was maybe 8 years old or so my parents gave me a toy microscope that has projection capabilities. I used to lock myself in the bathroom, turn the lights out and draw out the projections. I can’t wait for my kids to be old enough to show them it and explore. I just love amateur science stuff.
What’s next for you?
I have a show in October I am currently working on at the URBN headquarters in Philly. This new body of work explores the concept of ripples, waves, and other fleeting moments.

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