art for advent 2019

Kathryn Last

When I started this project, I began envisioning the way that each painting would hang beside one another. Initially I wanted everything to be a uniform size, and there is so much power in that, but it’s not necessarily me and doesn’t represent the way that I work. I decided that I wanted to hang the works salon style, because that type of hanging was most representative of who I am. I’m sure that not everyone started this process thinking of the curation aspect first, but I wanted to start with this to frame the project for myself and visually map out these 24 spaces. When I start any series, I imagine the works in conversation with one another. What are they trying to say? What is the direction here? The aesthetic decision to hang these works salon style wasn’t necessarily coming from a literal space, it more so freed me from the confines of keeping to a certain size or medium.
As I prepped for the first day of this project, I realized I hadn’t thought enough about the concept of the advent calendar and what it signified. As a child, the advent calendar ushered in the start of the holidays, and represented a very tangible calendar filled with either chocolates or miniature toys. Given that I had very little connection to the biblical implications of Advent season, I figured it best to channel the sensations I had as a child when opening up my Advent calendar each day to unveil something new. Channeling my inner child is something I do quite often in my practice, as a lot of my work is centered around nostalgia and the duration of time, and what the implications are for the self when time is so transient. In this project, I wanted to recreate the excitement I felt as a child each day into the works that I would be creating. The excitement manifested not only in the experience of the viewer and their interaction with the work but it also allowed me to fully experiment with countless mediums and surfaces each day. I had to be confident in the “not knowing” and that was both exciting and terrifying all at once.
Setting an intention for this project that allowed me the freedom and flexibility for expression, meant that I could be fully present in the act of creation. That doesn’t mean that my internal critic was fully silenced or that each day was easy, but ironically, the deadline of submission each day offered such a relief from this often strenuous dialogue with the self, and freed up the time to work in a more organic way. I discovered so much about the way that I work as an artist. It was almost as though I was looking from the outside in; at these patterns and textures that I always seem to be drawn towards, or this inherent colour that I unconsciously chose. There is so much that we can learn from just taking the time to observe and reflect on our own practice through such an interesting project like this.
Though I had imagined how each artwork would fit together, I found that as days marched forward as they often do, all of that went out the window. In a very poetic way,
this became a project about the self, with each work operating as a mirror; transcribing my feelings into visual form for 24 days. There is a certain vulnerability that comes with being a creative that you have to be comfortable with sharing. As cliché as it sounds, you are in essence baring your soul, or that part that makes you you in whatever form it manifests. Each work that I created for this project was in essence an extension of myself and had the ability to affect others. Being able to create something that has a life of it’s own is for me the most profound part of being an artist.
As days progressed, and I had time to reflect on this whole process. I have felt nostalgic this last week, longing for that daily submission and missing the ritual of it all. During these past 24 days, I created an archive that captured each day’s essence almost in the same way a photograph might. There is something really sacred about that.

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