One-on-One with 2016 Featured Artist Katherine Tolve

Katherine Tolve
Katherine Tolve at her studio in Windsor

You may have seen Windsor-based artist Katherine Tolve’s beautiful paper and felt flowers during Art on the Streets (who else snagged one of the beer cap flowers?!), now here’s your chance to see more of her artwork at the opening reception of Reclaimed Rubbish on June 23 from 5-7PM at 100 Pearl Street Gallery. The exhibit is a collection of collage art repurposed from discarded materials from buttons and textiles to Traveler’s calendars and checkbooks. My favorite piece from the exhibit, Supper Time, speaks to Katherine’s struggle with domesticity as an artist and is composed of dozens of vintage Betty Crocker recipe cards (spoiler alert: you’ll get to pick out a recipe card during the reception!). “I can’t make dinner every night, I can’t make the perfect meal, but I can paint it,” she says.  Which gets to the heart of Katherine’s collage work – in the process of reexamining the value of objects, Katherine also confronts and questions previously accepted notions of womanhood and gender roles. It’s no surprise then that her work is rooted in feminism and feminist responses to materialism, “As a kid, watching my Gram pull her jars of treasures from the back of her closet taught me that the utilization of saved materials is a trait that’s often missing from our disposable society.” Read on for our q&a with Katherine and watch our video at the end of the post to take a virtual tour of her studio. 

We’re very excited to have you as our 2016 Featured Artist. What would you say is the most important reason to support the arts?  

I think it’s important to support the arts because that’s where innovation is made. Without people who are creative, life’s pretty boring and we need creativity to keep life exciting. So, everyone should be supporting the arts.

What’s your favorite arts and cultural event in Hartford?

I look forward to the Hooker Day Parade every year. I think out of all the parades in Hartford, it’s the most creative one from the costumes to the floats. It’s really fun, I love bringing my kids there.

What about collage as a medium inspires you?

The best thing about mixed media and collage is that you can’t really screw up, you constantly change, and cut things and manipulate materials.  You can constantly experiment and there are no rules, which is exciting. You make your own rules. That’s probably the best part about collage. A painting’s so serious. When you buy a canvas or a board and you invest money into it and then you start something and you don’t like it, you’re like “ugh, jeez, that was a waste of money.” Collage is not like that, which is really awesome.

Katherine Tolve
Katherine Tolve’s studio space in Windsor

As an artist with a young family, how do you balance work/life and bring family into your work?

It’s hard but I feel like I have to embrace it and include them in my work. I think there will be lots of collaborations happening between my daughter and myself in the future as she gets older and she wants to be part of my work a little bit more. But mostly, I try to make her have her own art practice and see that, mom’s working on something and she can work on something. I try not to hide it because I can’t. it’s too difficult. So I try to include them in whatever I do and that helps a lot.

You recently co-founded the Mothers in Art Artists Collective. Could you talk about your inspiration for starting the group?

Recently, I’ve met a few other artists, who like myself, are mothers and it’s a struggle. It’s a struggle that’s gone back for years not just in art but in every profession, the whole question of women asking ‘Can I have it all?’ And I think it’s particularly hard in the art field because women are still getting past that fear. I mean art takes up a lot of your time, and sometimes that’s time taken away from your children. And I think in the field of art you tend to sometimes be viewed as not quite as serious so I created this group of artists where we are all serious and we meet once a month and we talk about our struggles, we share opportunities with each other, and sometimes we talk about mom things, and sometimes our children aren’t even mentioned.  But it’s really great just to connect with one another  and support each other and I’m looking forward to seeing where that group takes us.


Our United Arts Campaign is underway! Make a $100 donation and receive a limited edition print by Katherine Tolve.


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