Thursday, March 12, 2009

Art Space Talk: Kathryn Dunlevie

Kathryn Dunlevie is an artist based in Palo Alto, California. She is a two-time recipient of the Arts Council Silicon Valley Fellowship in Photography. Dunlevie's art has been featured in Artweek, A Journal of Art Criticism, San Jose Mercury News, Palo Alto Weekly, ArtLies, ArtShift San Jose, The New York Times-- among other publications.

Dunlevie has exhibited internationally-- her extensive exhibit history includes exhibits at Vertigo Gallery in London, at Studio Thomas Kellner in Germany, and at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Artists Gallery.

A graduate of Rice University, Dunlevie also studied film at the University of Paris, photography in Madrid, and painting at California College of Art.

Brian Sherwin: Kathryn, when I view your work theories of science and psychology come to mind. It is as if your images bend time-- they explore our perception of the world around us. One could say that they capture the idea of various dimensions as well as altered states of the mind-- or reflect collective memories stored as information. With that in mind, can you discuss your interest in science, psychology, and philosophy in regards to your art? Are there any specific theories that you adhere to within the context of your art?

Kathryn Dunlevie: About ten years ago the focus of my work began to shift from memory and psychology to a contemplation of the sensory overload being created by new technologies. It seemed to me that we were developing a different type of perception – not a linear catalogue, but an instant synthesis of pertinent images culled automatically from the ever-increasing barrage of data.

Not at First Glance: New London, 1998, mixed media on panel, 45” x 37”. Kathryn Dunlevie
Not at First Glance: London Inside Out, 1999, mixed media on panel, 45” x 60”. Kathryn Dunlevie

In my series Not at First Glance I attempted to offer visual models of this new type of perception. I created composites of disparate photographs which, once combined through collage and painting, formed meaningful compositions. As I used paint to blur the borders between the photographs, I began to notice in some of the works the appearance of peculiar transitions. This development inspired me to create my next series in which I consciously pursued the creation of more of these spatial anomalies.
More Than Meets the Eye: Carcieri del Vaticano, 2006, mixed media on panel, 60” x 47. Kathryn Dunlevie
More Than Meets the Eye: Changing Station, 2004, mixed media on panel, 37” x 60”. Kathryn Dunlevie

In More Than Meets the Eye I employed the photographic deconstructing and reassembling of specific places, and allowed the act of painting to coax the spaces into revealing their hidden layers. The interweaving of different perspectives created twists and ripples not visible in the original scenes. The pictorial worlds of More Than Meets the Eye were no longer merely composites of things seen while moving through space and time, but focused compositions containing glimpses of invisible extra dimensions.
Mirror Unmasked: Illumination, 35" X 54" - 2005 mixed-media on panel. Kathryn Dunlevie

BS: Kathryn, one of your most recent projects is titled Matter Unmasked. These photographic collages involve altered scenes that challenge the viewer’s perception of familiar objects and places. A review by Garland Fielder for ArtLies mentioned your methodical attention to detail. He also noted that you conveyed a painterly sensitivity in this body of work. Can you go into further detail about Matter Unmasked? Give our readers some insight concerning the thoughts behind this specific body of work.

KD: The series Matter Unmasked grew out of the mixed-media works of More Than Meets the Eye. My interest in String Theory and the depiction of unseen dimensions led me to a contemplation of particle physics’ Standard Model and a desire to illustrate the actual but visually imperceptible make-up of all matter. I felt I could best convey the notions of molecular structure and subatomic movement through the hard edges of collage.
Mirror Unmasked: Beyond Manhattan, 50" X 30" - 2008 mixed-media on panel. Kathryn Dunlevie

I put my paints away in favor of cutting and pasting, but soon found that I was essentially “painting” with snippets of photographs. In order to create recognizable scenes as well as a sense of underlying motion and structure, I integrated intact images with mosaic-like passages of small shards of photographs. This often led to a sense of surfaces having been stripped away to reveal a magnified view of what was actually underneath.
Mirror Unmasked: La Visitazione, 45" X 58" - 2008 mixed-media on panel. Kathryn Dunlevie

BS: What about your process in general? Can you describe how you work? For example, do you build the images from intuition, so to speak, or is their a great deal of planning and research beforehand? Tell us about your process.

KD: I’ve amassed a large bank of images primarily from urban areas. I photograph intuitively and extensively, choosing which images to print after I return to the studio. I like to start several pieces at once and move from one to another in order to keep a fresh eye.

The most exciting part of the process occurs in the studio. No matter what I’ve had in mind when selecting particular images to work with, there is always a moment when the piece veers off in a direction I haven’t seen coming. Ultimately each piece develops its own logic. Fortunately, I can now print all but the largest photographs myself. I’m able to work with a greater sense of immediacy and flexibility than ever before.

Double Take: Phane, 8" X 6" - 2003 mixed-media on panel. Kathryn Dunlevie

BS: Can you go into further detail about some of your influences? For example, are you influenced by any specific artists or art movements?

KD: I’ve always loved the way Georges Braque leads the viewer panoramically through a room with seemingly illogical jumps that end up making perfect sense. I also love the untrammeled way Rauschenberg mixed different media and so many aspects contemporary culture. Of course, David Hockney has been a huge inspiration with the way his photographic collages encourage the eye to progress through time as well as space.
Double Take: In Shadow, 20" X 15" - 2002 mixed-media on panel. Kathryn Dunlevie

BS: Speaking of exhibits-- where can your art be viewed at this time? Will you be involved with any upcoming exhibits?
KD: Right now I have work at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Artists Gallery in San Francisco, at Belgravia Gallery in London, at the Museum of Art and History in Santa Cruz, and at Hooks-Epstein Galleries in Houston, where I’ll be having a solo show in December.
You can learn more about Kathryn Dunlevie by visiting her website-- Dunlevie is currently a member of the community--
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin
Senior Editor
New York Art Exchange
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