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Cultivate Featured Artist: Kat Spears

The Cultivate Curatorial Board is excited to share the work of Kat Spears.

Kat shares their work and process in our interview below.

Learn more about the Cultivate Featured artist series below.

Learn more about Kat on their:

Briefly describe your work or share your artist statement

My latest body of work explores the perceived confluence of being that can occur in another person’s presence. These works also investigate the experience of love and the confrontation of otherness.

In the oblique approach to representation and the slippage into reveries of abstraction, I find similarity with how awareness vacillates between the physical and the psychological; how sensory fragments intermingle with emotions, distractions, and social dynamics.

I explore the sanctuary that can be found in the presence of another person, an animal, or in a memory brought on by a sentimental object, culminating in a feeling of oneness with the object of one’s adoration. My paintings are often born from moments in which subjects become porous, and the negative space between self and other is filled with connective, vibrating matter; two irreducible consciousnesses emulsify into a solution that also includes the cat, the lamplight, and the dust on the sill.

painting with abstracted figure in bottom left leaning over and turning head away from viewer
"tiny snails live here", 2022, acrylic and oil on canvas, 55x70. Image Courtesy of the Artist

How do you go about beginning a new piece? Do you have it planned or is it more spontaneous?

I usually start with an idea or an image source in the form of a sketch or a combination of photos, but I try to leave room for spontaneity. The paintings that take on a life of their own and surprise me are always my favorite.

What is a barrier that you, as an artist, overcame?

Getting over the fact that I'm not going to be satisfied with 90 percent of what I produce, but that I have to show some of that stuff anyway. I really can't judge my own work very well, and it's a practice in vulnerability. Sometimes the paintings that I considered to be embarrassing or failures end up resonating the most with other people.

abstract painting with red on left side with green and white knit pattern on bottom center
"eye shut knit throw", 2022, oil on canvas, 68x40. Image Courtesy of Artist

What is your go-to music when you're working on art?

Joni Mitchell

What do you strive for as an artist? What form of recognition is important for you?

It would be a dream to have a self-sustaining artistic practice, where I can make an income from my work that enables me ample time and space to keep creating. I would love for my paintings to hang in people's living spaces, especially in my friends' homes. Or in the home of one of my idols!

What advice would you share for artists? Share something that you have learned along the way.

Lean into failure. You have to make a lot of bad paintings to make a good painting. And when things seem to be getting easy or comfortable, and there

aren't as many questions, do something different. I've also learned that since I'm going to be on social media anyway I might as well use it to stay up to date with the art world, to see lots of fresh paintings, and to connect with other artists.

What is a work of art that is an inspiration to you?

I live in the same town as Pierre Bonnard's Nude in Bathtub, c. 1940, at the Carnegie Museum, so I visit that one often for inspiration. In Mourning and in Rage(1977) by Suzanne Lacy and Leslie Labowitz is such a powerful and vulnerable performance. I always turn to feminist artists working in the 1970s when I need a boost of inspiration.

painting in blue hues of figure sitting in shadow on right of canvas with legs covered by blanket
"gulf (toyota camry interior 2)", 2022, acrylic and oil on panel, 48" x 48". Image Courtesy of the Artist

Who are three working artists that you love and would recommend?

rough painting of medium sized brown and white dog laying in pet bed on left with penguin toy at lower left of composition and figure in upper center on knees looking at dogs face.
"some eyes", 2021, acrylic and oil on panel, 36" x 36" Image Courtesy of the Artist


Cultivate Artists

A curated collection of emerging and mid-career artists. The featured artist program at Cultivate serves to share the artist's work and process with the community, inviting them to understand how and why an artist creates the work they do, to market and promote artists, and to connect artists to each other and to our network of curators, artists, and gallery owners.

These artists are curated together and represent the work that we exhibit at Cultivate. The artists are selected in January and June, and scheduled out for the six-month period. If you are interested in being one of Cultivate featured artists, please visit our open call for submissions.

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