The ecofeminist artist Virginia Katz is primarily a contemporary painter, but also works in sculpture and photography with her approach for creating art conceptually driven and processed-based. She is a California based artist who received her MFA at California State Long Beach and has been creating art full time for 23 years. In her interview with VoyageLA, Katz mentions how her interest in nature has led to her series on different elements within the landscape: Land, Place, Atmosphere, Wind, and Ocean. She states ‘‘As a conceptual painter, systems and constructs underpin the processes in my work. In other words, it is important for me to understand in detail, beforehand, the why and how I am making a work.’’ (1) Each one of these series is somehow connected, one leading onto the other, helping form and understand how one can help the other. Katz is a prominent ecological artist using many nature-based methods to create and incorporate into her art, some of which include mapping the wind, using found natural materials in her topographical prints and forming three-dimensional landscape paintings.
The elements I specifically love of hers is the use of texture in her landscape paintings such as ‘Into the Abyss’ series 2017 (2) completed in Mixed Media, Mixed Processes on Paper Mounted on Sintra, Monoprinting, Intaglio, Drawing and Painting. This will help me develop my own practice as I want to experiment with more mixed media, especially incorporating some of the natural landscape into my work. This could be prints using leaves, twigs or even leaving my artwork outside in the wind and rain to really expand upon my stormy sky’s paintings. Using my poetry book ‘gigantic cinema’ will also allow me to build upon how to incorporate ecological ways of creating art, such like Katz does.
One aspect of Katz work that I am less drawn to are her sculptures, personally I would much rather focus on her painterly quality than her sculptural. I do love the purpose behind her sculptures, but the overall process behind her paintings is something I am going to focus on. How, from a distant, the paintings look completely smooth and almost photographic quality, but up close they have sculptural elements with masses of texture and surface, for example, the ‘Expanse’ series 2019 (3).
Some of her more recent exhibitions include:
- Pulse/LA, SoLA Contemporary Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, Curated by Lucinda Luvaas 2021 (Group)
- The Five Facets of Humanity, Fellows of Contemporary Art (FOCA), Los Angeles, CA, Curated by Khang B. Nguyen with Catalog 2020 (Group)
- Spaces and Forms, Ruth Bachofner Gallery, Bergamot Station, Santa Monica, CA 2015 (Solo)
- Passages – Surface and Form, Mainframe Gallery, Seattle, WA 2014 (Solo)
Katz is purely inspired by nature and the earthly processes that embolden her, ‘‘Since we are form, what has become clear to me is that the upheaval and regeneration found around us may also be understood in human life, not only literally, but also symbolically.’’. (4) Her attitude towards creating is what inspires me, understanding that both humans and nature are forms – although different – cannot be separated. This will help me develop my work by appreciating the art I create, how I can inform the person viewing it on the process and choices I have made.
When researching around Katz work, there were little to no negative critics about her work, her contemporary art is widely praised such as in the ‘WhiteHot Magazine of Contemporary Art’ – ‘‘Overall the exhibit was a pleasure to the eyes and offered viewers microscopic close-ups of both real and recreated elements of nature and the vast distances between orbit and earth.’’ stated by Simone Kussatz. (5) Personally I agree with Kussatz, the variety between the microscopic and the vast is an element which I would love to bring into my work, this balance allows for it to be appreciated from a distance whilst surprising viewers at closer inspection. I have also linked a video of Katz creating some of her work, showing the process and materials she uses. It really helped me grasp the way she goes about creating her ecological artwork and the power behind each piece she creates.