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Through the years, my work has spanned the arc of abstraction to realism and back again, maintaining underlying concepts of nature and ambiguity at its core. I’m drawn to the way the natural world is a strong, silent witness to all of our craziness while continuing to be on its own mission. Nature has fortitude and a sort of ordered chaos that we admire. There’s a reason no one feels good about cutting down that 200 year-old oak tree in the front yard. 

The Flux painting series began in 2011 while living in Boston (oh, those frigid winters!). While living there I had no car and walked EVERYWHERE, and crossed the Fort Point Channel Bridge in South Boston daily en route to my studio. The water in winter would freeze over with a thin sheet of ice, only to fragment and break apart in huge sheets. The river transformed into a cascade of frosty, translucent tiles seemingly grouted with the blackness of the water beneath.

I began to consider the notion of patterns in nature, and the patterns (ie. habits) that we all inherently possess in whatever we do. Flux is an evolving body of work that is a marriage of these concepts. From beginning to end, these paintings are in a constant state of wrestling with their final form. This series is process-driven: layers upon layers of paint are choreographed through a push and pull of concealment and revelation; blocking color out only to add color back in. I think of these finished paintings almost like looking through dense foliage, the positive and negative spaces determining pattern and depth.

In regards to my current drawing series Nebulous, my intention is to specifically create small scale drawings (6″ x 6″), that give the impression of peering through a microscope to a macro otherworldliness. I use charcoal, pencil and compressed air when making these, often on a small board on my lap. These are incredibly satisfying to do and are meditative wells of a sort. 

My environment has always impacted me, and as a recent west coast transplant the change has been drastic. Los Angeles is the Wild West in many ways. I’ve seen a coyote run down Sunset Boulevard at in broad daylight and huge Jade plants that sprout out of highway medians. Surprisingly, nature has to be fought back with a stick here- a perfect place for me to be.

Do you have any favorite quotes?

One of my favorites is by Oscar Wilde: “When bankers get together for dinner, they discuss Art. When Artists get together for dinner, they discuss money.”

What surprises you? 

I’m always surprised at the optimism and relief I feel when I remember time is a social construct. Things are fluid and always changing, and the future- even five minutes from now- is unwritten. 

What freaks you out? 

Lights going on or off for no apparent reason. It’s obviously the work of the paranormal.

What cracks you up?   

Hearing my brother Matt’s misadventures in playing music gigs, great stand-up comedy, awkward falls. Actually, almost all awkward social situations make me laugh when it happens to someone else.

What annoys you?

Upspeak! It’s a period? Not a question mark?

What makes your heart melt?

My son’s smile.

You just happened to marry a great friend of mine from college. (You both scored.) How did you meet Jeff?

I met him at a New Jersey coffeehouse where I used to work, 12 1/2 years ago. He asked me to dinner, and the rest, well…

Do you have an object in your studio that you adore? 

One of my favorite things in my studio is my green retro wall clock. I’ve had it since I had my first studio out of college, and it’s been with me ever since.  

If you had another talent, besides making art, what would it be? 

If I had another talent I think I’d like to be a musician. Music is the ultimate art form in my opinion. Of course, I don’t play an instrument or sing, but in another life I’d rock it.

You are granted a superpower. What would it be? Why? 

My superpower would be the ability to physically transport myself to another place or time by simply closing my eyes and wishing myself there.  I often think of the same childhood memories of home over and over again, or long for having a chance to go back to that conversation with a friend in that bar from years ago.

What’s your biggest regret?

One of my biggest regrets is not taking more risks and getting out of my comfort zone in high school and college.

Do you have a childhood memory you’d like to share? 

When I was about 8 years old, I had some rabbits. Our family had lots of animals, and the rabbits that my sister Sarah and I took care of were really tame and friendly. One day I was sitting against a wall by myself, a rabbit in my lap, and I was stroking its ears repeating “Believe in yourself. Believe in yourself…” My sister snuck up behind me and proceeded to laugh and ridicule me, and tell everyone in the family what I was doing, which they thought was hysterical and ridiculous.  In retrospect, I was projecting just a little bit.

Kate Davis Caldwell was born in 1976 in the great garden state of New Jersey and currently lives and works in sunny Los Angeles. She earned her B.A. in Studio Art from the University of Vermont and her MFA in Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts in New York. Link to her personal website here.