"There will be rebels. They will live in the shadows. They will be the renegade painters, sculptors, poets, writers, journalists, musicians, actors, dancers, organizers, activists, mystics, intellectuals and other outcasts who are willing to accept personal sacrifice. They will not surrender their integrity, creativity, independence and finally their souls. They will speak the truth. The state will have little tolerance of them. They will be poor. The wider society will be conditioned by mass propaganda to write them off as parasites or traitors. They will keep alive what is left of dignity and freedom. Perhaps one day they will rise up and triumph. But one does not live in poverty and on the margins of society because of the certainty of success. One lives like that because to collaborate with radical evil is to betray all that is good and beautiful. It is to become a captive. It is to give up the moral autonomy that makes us human. The rebels will be our hope." - Chris Hedges
WHO I AM: Kate Kretz earned a Cours De La Civilisation Francaise certificate at The Sorbonne while working as an au pair, then earned a BFA in painting at the State University of New York at Binghamton, garnering the SUNY Foundation Award for Excellence in the Fine Arts, Harpur College Departmental Honors in Art, and Harpur College Academic Honors, while working 30 hours a week as a picture framer. She was subsequently accepted into the prestigious Hoffberger School of Painting at MICA, but could not afford to attend. She earned her MFA from the University of Georgia where she was awarded a departmental assistantship as well as a university-wide assistantship.
Kretz’s work has appeared in over 95 international newspapers and has been featured repeatedly in the New York Times, ArtPapers, Surface Design, as well as Vanity Fair Italy, ELLE Japon, Esquire, and PASAJES DISENO magazines. Her controversial painting “Blessed Art Thou” appeared in hundreds of international news sources, and continues to be published in university textbooks worldwide.
Exhibitions include the Museum of Arts & Design in New York, Van Gijn Museum in The Netherlands, Kunstraum Kreuzberg in Berlin, Wignall Museum, Katonah Museum, Frost Museum, Fort Collins MOCA, San Jose Museum of Textiles, Racine Museum of Art, Telfair Museum, Fort Lauderdale Museum, Tsinghua University in Beijing, and the Museo Medici in Italy, as well as Lyons Wier Ortt & 31Grand Gallery in NY, Hardcore Art Contemporary Space in Miami, and Packer/Schopf in Chicago.
She has received the NC Arts Council Grant, The South Florida Cultural Consortium Fellowship, The Florida Visual Arts Fellowship, and a Millay Colony Residency. She was recently granted the SECAC award for Outstanding Artistic Achievement, and is on the Fulbright Specialist Roster until 2021. After working as an Associate Professor and BFA Director at Florida International University for ten years, she relocated to the Washington, DC, area. Kretz currently works in her studio while teaching part-time, giving workshops and lectures at various universities. Her work can be seen at www.katekretz.com.
THE SHORT STORY:
I am nearing the final stretch of an extremely challenging body of work investigating the common denominators between all of the news stories that keep me awake at night. Seven years ago.... before Trump, before recent awareness of the ubiquitous nature of sexual assault, I began researching entitlement and the need to dominate, as it manifests itself in a myriad of aspects in our society. I have named the series "#bullyculture", as it covers wildly varied transgressions that are manifested from the same drives. This project will culminate in a solo exhibition at York College in PA, entitled "Common Denominator". The show will run from 1/24/18 through 3/24/18, and will have a catalog. I have had 3 galleries close in the past 7 years, so I am doing everything on my own these days, and this body of work, due to its challenging nature, will be particularly difficult to sell and exhibit.
I am seeking funds to finish and prepare this large body of work for exhibition. In particular, I need to purchase a large, ornate frame required by one of the pieces, "The Appetites of Oligarghs".
The impetus for this piece, begun 3 years ago, was the Strauss-Kahn rape case / sexual entitlement, but evolved into a layered work about other aspects of entitlement. It features the night bombing of Baghdad and the world's most expensive carpet ever sold at auction. From my research, utilizing Bell Hooks "Oppositional Gaze" to represent a male nude from the point of view of a victim is unprecedented, and this is one of several feminist works in the show that breaks ground in this manner, calling out the perpetrator. I am also getting my first piece cast in bronze at a foundry. Other works in the show include the Lie Hole series, 12 drawings of Donald Trump's overarticulating mouth in various positions,
"One For The Team", a piece about the confluence between sports culture and rape culture (executed in the man-cave medium of wood burning),
as well as many new pieces that will not be released until the exhibition. Any funds procured beyond the framing of these 20 odd pieces and the bronze casting of a new piece will be used to continue this body of work beyond the exhibition, as these days, it feels to be an infinite project. This project speaks truth to power in an unflinching way, and is by far the most urgent and difficult that I have ever undertaken. The state of our culture has set me on fire in the studio, and I have been more prolific than ever before. Please help in the final push to get this work out and into the world.
THE LONG STORY:
I make work that has tremendous, consistent, critical support, but the subject matter is often difficult. It is art that presents challenges for venues who want to show it, and, while viewers have said that it often haunts them for weeks, it is not the kind of work that most people want to hang on their wall.
For the past 30 years, I have been driven to make art without compromise. I have left men I loved who did not understand the importance of my work, put myself through undergraduate and graduate school, and worked dozens of jobs, sometimes two and three at a time, to support my art making. In every job position, I may have had to make concessions, but I have kept the integrity of my work intact. I have said “no” to situations that might have advanced me professionally, but would have compromised the quality or direction of my vision. I have wrecked my body, forgetting to break, and created two repetitive-use injuries that required surgery.
I pulled hundreds of all-nighters to ensure that the quality of my work is always impeccable, never releasing it until there is not one thing I could possibly do to make it stronger. I spend months-to-years on some pieces, though only a handful of people might ever truly understand the complexity of my obsessive, elaborate processes. I am constantly pushing media boundaries, whether it is finding a way to do silverpoint drawings on found silverware,
or embroidering with human hair onto a ground of human hair,
all in service of finding the form that will make the art more potent.
I know what sells. I have the skills. I could make $500,000 a painting (and more for the prints) if I painted The Most Beautiful Golf Courses In The World. I could paint society portraits. But I firmly believe that as our entire world becomes more corporatized, that artist are the last real holdouts, the ones who do not prioritize money over everything else, and that we function, as Kurt Vonnegut once said, as "The canaries in the coalmine". I am certain that when this show opens in January and people see the body of work that has consumed me for the past 5 years, most will find the prescient nature of the work to be jaw dropping.
This project of making work about entitlement and our culture steeped in bullying is the most important of my life, but is also the most challenging, in terms of subject matter. I have had to take short breaks from the research, to maintain my mental health. When one of the first works from this series was picked up by the Huffington Post, and it was the catalyst for hateful, misogynistic attacks against me, and my family. My response, an interview with the Coalition Against Gun Violence, is here.
I have a solo exhibition scheduled in January of 2018 at York College (with catalog), and another later in the year, at Coastal Carolina University: they will both be showing this #bullyculture body of work, work that many others have been enthusiastic about, but were not able to show. Since this series has begun, several curators have walked in to my studio, and literally said, "Oh my God... this work needs to be seen!", and then walked it back, once they realized the complications of getting it past a committee, or hanging it in a "family friendly" galllery. I am grateful for those who are willing to support the controversial: it is amazing how many critics complain about the dearth of challenging work, yet the logistical roadblocks to putting such work in front of the public, especially in our political environment, are many.
I had a sobering realization last year: I have spent $300,000 over the course of my lifetime to make my work. I could be living in the farmhouse I have always wanted. I could have seen even more of the world. But I am compelled to do what I do. I have made the work that needs to be made, speaking truth to power, with no regards for sales, or pleasing anyone but myself. I have always taught at the college level to earn money, so I can keep my studio work untainted. My present adjunct teaching, although I love it, exists to support my art-making addiction. As a tenure-earning professor earlier in my career, I chose a unique path, building a 19-page CV without a gallery, drafting my own exhibition proposals and PR efforts over the course of my career. I spent a tremendous amount of time, money, and effort writing press releases, doing mailings, and renting trucks to drive my paintings all over the country. My pieces have always taken an unusual amount of time to make, and, as I was earning tenure, I thought it wise to re-circulate the slowly growing body of work in university galleries and small museums, rather than tying it up with a gallery. I have had affiliations with 4 great galleries in the past decade, but, like many galleries since the recession, they have all closed their doors. The art world is undergoing a strange transformation that seems to be echoing the world at large. While the top 1% artists and galleries are doing well, everyone else is struggling. I have been thinking that artists might need a new paradigm for quite some time now, and I love the potential of Kickstarter.
It's perfect for me, because my pieces often take an incredibly long time to make... investing hundreds of hours means that the price is out of most people's league. My few longtime, repeat collectors collect up to a certain price point. There are lots of artists who would simply repeat the popular work, or make smaller versions to expand their market, but I realized a long time ago that I had to choose between making a living as an artist, and making art without compromise. I have been banking on The Long Game for my work since the very beginning. I became an artist in order to tell the truth, in the most potent, seductive way possible.... to make what the universe tells me to make. As my professor Angelo Ippolito was fond of saying, "A painting that has a compromise is a failure."
A curator once said of my work: "You either love it or hate it, but it is impossible to ignore." There are few endeavors remaining in the world that are not compromised or watered down in some way. By assisting me in the creation and proper presentation of this work, you become a part of speaking truth to power, opening up much-needed dialogs through art that is "capable of penetrating the television-addled consciousness of contemporary viewers.” (Neil Herring, ART PAPERS)
Thank you for your time, and I hope you will consider a donation to help me in this final push getting this work out into the world, or a share with someone else who might be interested.
Risks and challenges
All the risks and challenges presented by this project have been met by me many times before, through 25 years of mounting exhibitions.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (20 days)