Studio Visits: Katy Horan
In a beam-exposed, remodeled garage, this artist prepares to send her work off into the world
"People who have seen my work, but who have never met me often think I'm a goth, or a witch," says artist Katy Horan earnestly. "I tried to be a witch, believe me, but it's just not me." Horan's work, which tends towards the minuscule and finely detailed, is composed of the fantastic, ambivalent building blocks of folkloric tradition; Appalachian granny women (the curandera-herbalists of the Ozarks), Victorian ladies, and spirits share pictorial space with one another, acting out supercharged dramas whose intricacies we might only guess at. Horan's studio, a beam-exposed, remodeled garage in the backyard of a Shoal Creek house, is organized and warm. Horan, who admits to "needing a break from making really exacting work," tries her hand at clay or papier-mâché figurines which – half-finished – dot the working surfaces and windowsill of her studio. As comfortable researching murder ballads and folktales as she is spending hours on a single figure, Horan's mind is exacting and tenaciously curious.
Katy Horan: This may not be the best studio visit because I'm just framing and about to send some work out, so I'm not really "in process."
Austin Chronicle: That's OK. We can talk about finishing. So where is your work going?
KH: I have a show at LQV Gallery in Oakland which opens on March 8th. I have some work that's not here in the studio because it's being photographed. I started taking my work to get photographed because I'm so sick of taping things to the fence, taking pictures, and doing a terrible job!
AC: Did you know what that show would consist of before?
KH: Yes, it's work left over from an exhibition from October. I work slowly, so I have to use what I've got.
AC: Do you find yourself at odds with that fact – being a slow worker – and the imperative to produce ever-new work?
KH: No, because that's always better for me. I have pushed myself to go bigger, but the fit is not a natural one. People always tell me to make my work bigger, and I don't think I need to. I like to pull people in. Also, I don't think there's a formula for selling things. It's so random that I never know.
AC: And what's it like when all your stuff has left the studio?
KH: Ehh. It's nice because it means I don't have to stay up late working every night. It's nice because it means I can take a break, because there's always a huge push before a show to finish things. But I don't know what to do with myself – and that's going to happen soon, because I'm shipping stuff off on Friday.
AC: It seems really exciting to get the work out, but is there a loss, too?
KH: There's always a depression that happens for me. Not just when the work is gone, but when it's out there and people are looking at it. I struggle more with that, because I've been showing long enough that I'm better than I used to be at managing my expectations. There's always a letdown with shows like the one I'm sending work off for, because I'm not going to be there for the opening, I'm not getting that feedback on the work. I have no idea what people are saying, and if there's no review, then I have no idea – and that's almost worse. Good or bad, I can take.
To see more photos from our visit with Katy, go to www.austinchronicle.com/photos.