by Sonny Kay
Seattle-based painter Katie Metz specializes in documenting the hustle and bustle of the city around her. Employing a unique blend of kinetic impressionism bordering on abstraction, coupled with a peculiar technique whereby she scratches her way through the paint (only to layer on more), her uncanny ability to capture a sense of movement and atmosphere results in work that virtually comes to life before the viewer’s eyes. Her recent show, Concrete and Light (at Friesen Abmeyer Fine Art) presented 14 recent works, and the culmination of an obsessive commitment to refining her process, not to mention eight years of coming to terms with the city she currently calls home.
Born and raised outside Boulder, Colorado, Katie attended St. Mary of the Woods College in Terre Haute, IN before returning to Denver to attend Platt College. There she earned a degree in computer-based graphic design, and began illustrating and designing logos for freelance clients. For the next few years, she focused heavily on classical figure drawing (even spearheading a figure drawing group for four years), still lifes and landscapes, refining her technique until she felt she’d exhausted it. Soon after the new millennium, Katie found herself in Seattle, living a truly urban lifestyle for the first time. She was, as she puts it, “stunned” by the city – it’s scale and impersonality. All of a sudden, I was worrying about keys! Laundry! Driving! It was weird” she says. Overwhelmed by the relentless din, Katie experienced a phase of creative inertia that lasted almost 2 years. Her prior work seemed, simply put, irrelevant. Her motivation at an all time low, she decided to simply absorb the experience and wait for the proverbial dust to settle.
And settle it did. Katie soon found herself fascinated by certain elements of urban decay. Armed with a digital camera, she began photographing cracks in sidewalks, an obsession that gradually broke open the creative shell she’d been cocooned in. Printing the photos at work, she’d then spend her evenings collaging them together, using a gel adhesive, overpainting them and developing a technique incorporating a razor blade to scratch away at the existing images. The results were exciting, so much so that the twenty or so pieces she hung in a local coffee shop sold immediately. A second series sold just as quickly. How’s that for inspiration?
Katie’s restlessness, however, ensured that she wasn’t content for long. “I really wanted to not paint landscapes, I wanted to paint feeling”. She continues, “I consider the razor blade a brush. It’s the same as any other tool. When I started scratching, it was movement. Scratching achieves the roundabout connection of everything I feel”.
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