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Kate Drewniak | Studio Visit

We are thrilled to announce that Boston-based artist Kate Drewniak has joined the Tappan family. Debuting with a selection of beautiful, delicately constructed mixed media pieces, her work blurs the lines between painting, collage and sculpture, realizing textured compositions that remind us that beauty may be found in the most unassuming objects. Drewniak’s talent lies in the layering of these materials and in doing so, explores the nature of memory and decay, appropriating and giving new life to discarded objects.

We sat down to ask her a few questions about herself and her practice.


When did you start calling yourself an artist?

Once I had a dedicated studio and was making a cohesive body of work after graduating, it was a little easier for me to make that claim. I still struggle with it sometimes.

Whats the first thing you do when you get an idea for a piece?

I begin looking for my materials. I love searching through thrift stores and estate sales and getting to see a bunch of weird stuff along the way.

You studied painting, but when did you begin exploring with different media in your works? 

I studied painting in art school, but luckily I was encouraged to explore other media as well. I was doing a lot of sewing and experimented with making 3d forms out of fabric and sewing tea stained paper/forming it into installations and 3d pieces as well. I also started basic bookbinding and making my own sketchbooks with vintage book covers. I didn't want to waste the entire inside of the books, so I started trying to find ways to incorporate the paper into my art. It pretty much went full circle and I started sewing the paper together again.

When do you make your best work?

When I’m in the moment and not concerned about the end result.

Regarding your method of making, is it a case of the material or method dictating the idea or the other way around?

It’s a little of both for me. My work is really intuitive and a lot of decisions are made during the process. I don’t always approach pieces with an exact plan of how they’ll turn out. Color is usually what’s most important to me. I start putting colors together that make sense to me and aim for a certain feeling or aesthetic that joins the materials with my ideas.

I originally started using old books and discarded paper in my work because they were readily available and I loved the colors and text on them. I also make sketchbooks and boxes out of reclaimed books for fun, so I ended up with tons of paper leftover from those projects. My work has always been about exploring the nature of memory and decay, and these materials fit into that perfectly to me. I also like the idea of assigning new meaning to things that might otherwise be forgotten.

If you could travel anywhere to create for a while, where would you go?

I’ve always wanted to take a road trip across the US. I think it would be amazing to make art that’s inspired by all of the different landscapes across the country.

Did you grow up around other creative people?

I think my family had a big influence on my creativity. My parents aren’t artists, but they were always working on things around the house whether it was gardening or fixing cars or building things; they were always doing things with their hands. They always encouraged me to explore art and music.

What are your other hobbies?

I love bookbinding, sewing, bike rides, and ice cream.

What are your favorite art ­making tools in the studio?

My sewing machine, guillotine paper cutter, and my hot pink utility knife.

Favorite movie?

Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou

What’s your studio philosophy?

I think it’s important to go to the studio whether or not you feel like it. Even if things aren’t working one day, just organizing things or seeing what my studio mates are up to can help inform what I’m doing.

If you could have a drink with one artist, who would it be?

Louise Bourgeois

What influences you and your work?

Everyday things, rusty cars, and factory buildings. Conversations with friends, and shadows in my house at night... 

What motivates you?

The feeling I get when I just finish a piece. Deadlines work too.

What is up next for you?

Keep making stuff.

 Drewniak received her BFA in Painting from Massachusetts College of Art and Design in 2010 and currently lives and works in Boston, MA. Learn more about her works on her Artist Page.