My works explore order, chaos, and entropy. Whether man-made or driven by a force of nature, they work to analyze the sublime that surrounds us, upending normal, shifting perspective, and nullifying gravity. These works I make are meant to reinforce the vastness of nature and our slim seat within it.
I approach my subject matter as a forensic record keeper. I travel to sites affected deeply by change and record the evidence of these events. It feels like a pilgrimage going to these sites, like bearing witness to my humble place in Nature. After taking hundreds of photographs and documenting personal narratives of witnesses, I develop a plan for sharing these second-hand events. The working medium is greatly influenced by the stories I hear and the images I bring back to my studio in Long Beach. Woodcut prints, ceramics, oil paintings, sculptures, over-sized drawings, and site-specific installations are all hinged on the "event."
I think about the complete works as the aftermath of eventsas memories, cautionary tales, and violent housekeeping, all loaded down with tangled bald roots, wire hangers, sepia photographs and last week's intended laundry. The work is meant to embrace imagery inversion, capturing landscape and debris moving in unleashed and erratic directions with indefinite destination and uncertain gravity.
The events of the last several years continue to point to our niche in the natural world. The Sublime is overwhelming and ever present. Inhaling tiny particles sickens and destroys great swaths of the population. Water creeps further inland as glaciers recede. The security of home vanishes as superstorms toss towns. It is a dark picture.
The works I am making are dark. But they are intended to push beyond that darkness. Most of the work exists in duality. They are in fluxsimultaneously verging on collapse and stability. A sixteen-foot tall, suspended tornado is an ever-reaching tree. Printed woodcuts of thick disorienting brambles are protective fencing. Ceramic bowls mockingly catch videoed water in a drought and scry the past, the present and the future.
Many writers inspire these works, celebrating the Sublime in nature. Emerson and Dickinson were the first to pull me in, point out the delicate ephemerality of shadows, the ground-shaking splendor of thunder, and the violent magnificence of high winds. Emerson's "Water" speaks of the "golden pleasure" of water in one line and its ability to "elegantly destroy" in the next. In Dickinson's work, time and again, she refers to nature's mysticism. In "Some keep the Sabbath going to Church (236)," the landscape becoming her "domed" cathedral, the site of memorable reflection and humble acknowledgement of the transcendence surrounding her. I include the full texts below.
The water understands
It wets my foot, but prettily,
It chills my life, but wittily,
It is not disconcerted,
It is not broken-hearted:
Well used, it decketh joy,
Adorneth, doubleth joy:
Ill used, it will destroy,
In perfect time and measure
With a face of golden pleasure
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Some keep the Sabbath going to Church (236)
Some keep the Sabbath going to Church
I keep it, staying at Home
With a Bobolink for a Chorister
And an Orchard, for a Dome
Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice
I, just wear my Wings
And instead of tolling the Bell, for Church,
Our little Sextonsings.
God preaches, a noted Clergyman
And the sermon is never long,
So instead of getting to Heaven, at last
I’m going, all along.
Katie Stubblefield lives and makes art works in Long Beach, California. She received her BFA from Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, and an MFA from California State University, Long Beach in 2001. She is an adjunct professor teaching art survey courses to adults with intellectual disabilities (ID) and autism at Coastline College. Through their Special Programs and Services Department, Stubblefield develops both vocation-centered certificated programs and individual creative courses for adults with autism and ID. Her works have been included in exhibitions at the Kellogg Gallery, SALT Fine Art, Carolyn Campagne Kleefeld Contemporary Art Museum, San Louis Obispo Museum of Art, Jordan Faye Contemporary, Jamie Brooks Fine Art, POST Gallery and the Brooklyn Art Library. Katie has received both an Insight/Incite Award and two Individual Artists Fellowships in support of both her two- and three-dimensional works from the Long Beach Arts Council.