Welcome to DELVE Interviews, a look into the unique paths of artistic and creative individuals. These conversations are a branch of our DELVE Workshops and Events, where we celebrate and discover everyone's unique paths as artistic and creative forces.
Today we're excited to be speaking with visual artist Katrina Neumann. For Katrina, the idea comes before the medium and long-term project. Her post-studio practice sways in between disciplines that deals with Romanticism. Her critique of ecological issues critically turn the focus back onto the need to keep fighting for the preservation of our environment in the light of current events. By utilizing Disaster Relief Volunteering as field research, Neumann reflects on the loss of space, the destruction of environment, urban civilization, and the temporal all while toying with the ideology of time and the effects of technology.
She received her B.F.A from SUNY Purchase College and her M.F.A from SMFA and Tufts University. Her work has been featured in the juried-in-print exhibition New American Paintings, Radio Context, WNYC, Whurk Magazine and Berlin Art-Parasites. Her curatorial work has been reviewed in ArtNews. She is affiliated with Flux Factory, Elsewhere Museum, CAC Woodside, LMCC, Creative Capital, Artist Alliance Inc. and All Hands Volunteer.
Katrina is also the Founder and Chief Editor of Rate My Artist Residency. This growing resource provides a platform for artists to socially and critically engage in conversation about artist residencies worldwide. The website has been featured in ArtFCity, BlouinArtInfo, Artspace, China Residencies, CMagazine, Mapping Residencies, and NYArts Magazine.
Help her go to Madrid and keep providing artists with amazing information by donating to her Kickstarter!!
Can you describe your path in the creative industry – from where and when you began, until now?
I really began considering a career in the arts during my sophomore year. I entered college as theater major with a concentration in acting and later came to the bittersweet realization that I was not a triple threat (I couldn’t sing or dance too well). So, I changed my major to a BFA in art with a concentration in graphic design. Simultaneously I was taking a painting course with Melissa Kuntz. I remember being the only one staying up late at night to work on my paintings. Melissa realized my ambition before I did and encouraged me to find a real art school. I was accepted to SUNY Purchase College where I received my BFA in Painting and Drawing and a minor in art history.
Today, I have a MFA from School of the Museum of Fine Arts and Tufts University. I currently work full-time in Chelsea at a gallery as a graphic designer and recently organized the upcoming solo exhibition by Pablo Helguera.
In all other hours, I am a visual artist with a studio and post-studio practice where I work out of my bedroom or rely on studio programs like Artist Alliance Inc.’s LES Studio Program which provides free studio space in the city for several months.
If that weren’t enough, in 2013, I founded the website Rate My Artist Residency where I am the chief editor and website administrator. This website has many aspects ingrained in the design. Primarily, it is a resource for artists to socially and critically engage about artist residencies world wide – both finding out about new ones and rating their experience per each residency. Last year, we just launched a fundraising effort, the Artists Helping Artists Grant, to provide artists that demonstrate financial need with an unrestricted grant to be able to attend a residency they have been accepted to in 2015. We also assist new or under recognized residencies with a platform to be seen without the need for membership fees, which has been the long-standing model of other residency websites. And, if people have time, they can find out how to apply for residencies to other residency listing sites to upcoming deadlines on the site.
Can you describe a day, or week, in your professional life?
A day usually consists of getting up around 7am, eating a decent breakfast with delicious coffee. I make it to the gallery around 10am and do a multitude of jobs to prepare for the upcoming show or upcoming client visits. Around 6pm, I make it a rule to leave work at the door. By 7pm I’m at home and cooking a quick meal then I dive back into working on either Rate My Artist Residency or my studio practice until 11 or 12. I work a lot, usually pulling in about 16 hour days to keep up with every aspect of my working life. I recently had to tell my roommates not to worry, “it’s not you, it’s me.”
In a week, I try to schedule my time wisely. My goals are to try to make it to at least one yoga class in the week, try and see friends when I can, try to not overbook my time, and try to get done what I need to, though, I know it’s tough. I work from Tuesday through Saturday, 10am to 6pm and Sunday is designated to working on Rate My Artist Residency and Monday is a designated studio day.
What is your favorite project that you've worked on?
In the gallery, my favorite project is definitely this upcoming exhibition by Pablo Helguera because I love taking on leadership roles when given the chance. It’s been a tough exhibition to prepare for because of the nuance of installations, works coming from all over the country, and the performative elements involved in two of the installation rooms. I believe the reward will be well worth the hard work for this show.
As a visual artist, my favorite project has been collaborating with musicians, Rose Hashimoto, James Waldo, Beth Wenstrom, and Karen Dekker on der Sonnenaufgang Quarte(T)ours. At 4 in the morning, I invite a small group of participants to meet me in a secret location in the city and I would take them to an ideal setting to watch the sunset. The musicians, a string quartet, would be waiting for the participants at the site. I set up a pre-selected catered breakfast on a picnic blanket as we watch the city lights slowly turn off. The musicians begin playing Haydn’s “Sunrise Quartet” about 15 minutes before the sun rises. It turns out to be a really beautiful moment while the city is still sleeping or just barely waking up. I love cultivating experience in this way as my art practice. So far, we have played on Roosevelt Island and then convinced the cops not to kick us off of the Brooklyn Bridge one morning. We hope to do more tours this upcoming summer – keep posted on sunrisetoursnyc.com.
For Rate My Artist Residency, the chance to give out three grants to artists in financial need was definitely the highlight of the program so far. Once, I had an angel donor contribute a secret grant to me during grad school at SMFA in a time, as an artist, when I was desperate for the money and couldn’t ask my parents for help. This donor’s help to me really inspired me to want to be like them and help artists one day the way I was helped in a time of need. Also, sometimes residencies are unreasonably expensive for an artist, which creates a class and financial barrier to most – I want to break that wall.
What's the most valuable lesson you've learned from managing all of your projects?
I suppose forgiveness to yourself and knowing that there are really only so many hours in each week that you can feasibly accomplish something. What is most important is that you just show up, and do everything you can, while you still can do it.
What advice do you often find yourself giving to the artists that you work with?
One piece of advice that I received was from an artist that I worked for on and off for several years, Franklin Evans, whom recently reinstated, “You have to work. Work. Work. Work. And work hard. And then keep working.”
Another one that I like to tell artists is one that I received from my art/life mentor, Dannielle Tegeder, where she keeps asking what I am applying to and then adds ten or twenty other things to apply to on my list. I tend to do the same thing with friends and colleagues because of Dannielle’s constant support.
One of my own philosophies is, “You have to do it because no one else is going to do it for you.”
And finally, where is one of your favorite places to go to be inspired?
Somehow, I am really inspired by Florida. It is strange to think or say that, but the state itself is truly bizarre and fascinating. It’s full of some of the ugliest parts in the United States like Trayvon Martin, or the man who was a bath salt zombie, and a bunch of awful sinkholes, or Jeb Bush, the housing crisis, and dilapidated strip malls – it is very American this way, all the bad sides, the real sides and surrounded by some of the most sublime landscapes and light. The state is not apart of the south, though geographically it is considered to be, and the people there are mixed politically and diversely. Some of my best work came from there when I was unemployed after grad school and living with my father – boredom breeds creativity.