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Kickstarting the "Who's Next?" Initiative is

Katherine L. Filice

Flying all the way from California to Hong Kong for this years 13th edition of the Asia Contemporary Art Show is a highly intricate artist who creates gorgeous ink drawings.

It has been a pleasure speaking to Katherine about her concept origins of her work, her struggles, advice for other artists, difficulties she's overcome and how it has all changed her life.

(Katherine in her studio)

Q: You work with such intricacy. How much time is usually devoted to one of your pieces?

A: I do a lot of research and sketching, along with creating a master tracing for my art. Once I start inking it will take between 50 to over 100 hours for the larger pieces. If I make a mistake and have to start over, it can take longer. I can’t erase, and I can’t cover up a mistake with paint. It can be intense especially when I am nearly done and I slip out of my line. It’s so important to not rush these pieces and to take my time, and put my soul into them. Sometimes I can do a few pieces a month, but there are other times where a month has gone by and I am still fighting through a piece.

Q: You will be showcasing your work in this month's Asia Contemporary Art Show - Fall 2018 edition. Tell us a little about the pieces you’re going to show.

A: I am going to be showing for the first time in Hong Kong and am very excited. The exhibit opens September 28th and runs through October 1st. I am bringing 19 pieces - it was 20 but one of the pieces got juried with Art Comes Alive exhibition that's happening in Ohio so it will stay behind for that.

The pieces I am bringing are from my last two series: “The Secrets We Keep” and “The Place in Between”. My first series ‘Secrets’ touches on all of those feelings and moments in our lives that we keep hidden from fear of not being good enough, or being judged as imperfect in our over-exposed social media based environment. The work speaks to those really hard places that we feel ashamed to share — it’s a challenge of sorts. Me saying to everyone: ok I will go first and show my weaknesses, so we can connect on a more genuine, human level, and heal this falseness in our world.

This was said by Katherine during our discussion:

“my personal artwork has been a deep secret that I shared only with my closest family. I hid away, silently, afraid to have my say on the planet—afraid of having a voice, of being seen.”

Q: It is incredible to see how far you’ve come through your journey as an artist, you have become an inspiration to those who have faced similar challenges. What would you say to those who aspire to be a full time artist like yourself?

A: I wouldn’t say I am “there” yet. I feel that I am just beginning my art career. I do think I have “emerged” more quickly than some artists in terms of shows and sales, and being “collectable.” I think my pace has been the result of a few unique things:

First, I am provocatively honest in my work. Something about that catches attention from writers and critics. It’s compelling work in that people want to discuss it. Yet it can be hard to look at. It can be conflicted. My “Heartbreak” series has truly upset some people. It required a lot of explanation on my part, especially “Love” and I have to say I was very afraid to show my work—I had a huge fear of being judged, rejected. It took me a long time, years, to expose myself. But when I did, my entire universe clicked into place, and I truly wish I had done it sooner.

Secondly, my style, composition and content are unique. You don’t see many surreal artists drawing with ink these days. That helps me stand out in a very crowded field of phenomenally talented artists.

And then finally, I still have a “day” job that gives me the resources to follow my dreams, but also offers an external life that gives me interesting things to say in my art. I think if I just sat in my studio drawing and didn’t have this other external world, that is full of conflict, stress, hope, love, adventure —so many challenges, I would have less interesting things to say in my art. My goal is to maintain that balance—where I have as much time as I need to create art, but I have the resources to create what is meaningful to me, without worrying about paying my bills.

My best advice is to be honest in your work, find your unique voice and just let the universe guide you on your path. It will all come as it is meant to. It might not be the journey you expect, but it will be the one you should follow.

Q: Each drawing is so unique - what inspired the creations from “The Place In Between” series?

A: My newest series “The Place in Between” digs very deep into what it means to be a female on this planet—the myriad of conflicting expectations placed on us. For example, in a sense we are asked to be concurrently subservient and assertive, quiet and vibrant, seen and unseen—it’s truly ridiculous if you stand back and look at our experiences as a whole. My series tackles these conflicts head on, along with my personal story of the memories of being a female, in my family and in society.

The series also discusses the trauma so many women have gone through and what the #metoo movement represents for them and me personally. The series has uplifting notes though—as does life; you heal from the experience and then the hope and joy flood in as spiritual salve. The moment we find our soulmate, when we become a mother, the moment we rise above all the conflicts and chaos and become our truest selves—the moment we reach down and help someone else stand up.

The Place in Between series is truly a journey of all the moments of being female—the breathtaking beauty and the deepest heartbreak.

Q: What do you want the audience to take away from your work?

A: I so deeply want my audience to look at my work and think “I have been there, I know you. Thank you for helping me be seen on this planet. Thank you for drawing the truth, but always for making sure each piece is drawn with love and hope too.” I want my audience to feel challenged, awakened, hopeful and connected when they leave my work.

Q: Do you think drawing has broadened your life? And if so, in what ways?

A: Oh my gosh, drawing literally changed my entire world. The day I shared my first piece, my life completely, radically and profoundly changed. Something was missing before then, this joy I feel now didn’t exist. I was always close to this happiness, but I had never swallowed it all the way down. I just feel like myself when I pick up a pen.

I have traveled the world following my art. I am exposed to amazing cultures and adventures through my work. I have made friends around the planet. It is a gift I don’t truly know I deserve, but I am so utterly grateful to have the doors of my life flung wide open and be on this amazing journey.

A great pleasure having the opportunity to speak to Katherine.

Make sure you follow her progress by following her on social media

Instagram: @katfilice

Next Who's Next? article - 4th October 2018.


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