In the studio with Katherine Giordano

In the studio with Boston-based artist Katherine Giordano. We met with Katherine to tell us more about growing up in the suburbs, her relationship with the canvas, and her unexpected source of inspiration.

When did you first begin to see yourself as an artist? 

After the 45th United States Presidential Election, I began seeing myself as an artist in the spring  of 2016. After realizing the results, it was easy to feel voiceless about the concerns so many  Americans had in terms of the future of the country. My art practice gave me a platform to  visually voice these concerns and involve myself in a supportive space amongst other individuals  who shared the same fears. Nasty Woman Exhibitions started a movement throughout the United  States to raise money for various organizations supporting marginalized persons. I am grateful to  have been a part of multiple shows with my work. I have met many incredible people and  learned so much about the art industry through this trivial time attempting to make something  positive out of a hostile political situation. 

Where are you from and what was your upbringing like? How has this impacted your work? 

I grew up in the suburbs right outside of Boston. My upbringing felt safe yet sheltered, coming  from a generally quiet area and a small town. My family is extremely close, so growing up in the  same surrounding as my extended relatives was a privilege. In regards to this, as I became older  and went off to college, I always wanted to learn more about the world and experience so much  more outside of my community. I studied abroad in Florence, where I had the opportunity to  travel around Europe and eventually moved to England for my Master’s course at Goldsmiths.  My upbringing has impacted my work because even though I came from a small town, I never  wanted to feel like my voice had to be small. It pushed me to want to be myself authentically,  voice my concerns in my art practice, and see outside my community. 

Paint us a picture of your artistic journey. What inspired you to first pursue, and then  continue to practice, artistic work? Was there a pivotal moment when you felt you were on  the right track? 

When I was in my college courses studying painting, politics inspired me to think critically about  what I was making and how I wanted to display my voice in my visual work. At a young age  learning about the technical components of painting, I also found it essential to extract my  research from the news and media, learn about it, and then paint about it. Doing politically  charged work energized me to keep me on track, to continue painting and learning about the  complexity of the world around me. 

What’s the message of your work? Where do they come from?  How would you describe your aesthetic? 

I have an obsession with rendering skin tone, it is hard to explain why, but I love the ability to  render something that feels fleshy and raw. In addition, the message of my work seems to fit into  the lens of empowerment in reclaiming agency that manifests in the female form. I also like to  include satire in my work, using objects as metaphors. 

Who/what are your greatest influences?

My most significant influences on painters are Chloe Wise, John Currin, Issy Wood, Jenna  Gribbon, etc. I could go on. I love going to painting shows and seeing the hand’s intimacy of the  artist. As I mentioned above, I have this obsession with the rendering of flesh, so seeing how  others portray fragments of that in their own work inspires my own practice. 

An unexpected source of inspiration? 

Ironically working as a bartender has been a source of inspiration. Working in your studio can be  quite isolating, especially when you’re not attached to an academic institution. The hospitality  industry has been such a positive experience for me in terms of meeting so many different kinds  of people that you usually wouldn’t come across and converse with about various topics. I have  learned a lot about work ethic and being thrown into high-volume stressful situations. I have  made some lifelong friends through hospitality and the constant social aspect of this job. Just  learning about others has inspired my work.

What do you want people to take from your work when they view it? Do you have the  audience consciously in mind when you are creating? 

I never want to assume how people will read or view my work. As an artist, I intend to  investigate a topic, visually represent that to the best of my ability, and allow my audience to  develop their own opinions. Of course, the audience is always in mind because I believe that  accessibility in my art practice is considered, but what I expect from my audience is just for them  to enjoy what I have made and give them the agency to view my work how they see fit. 

What events in your life have mobilised change in your practise/aesthetic? How has your art  evolved? Do you experiment? 

I haven’t lived in one place for more than a year over the past five years. With that being said,  I’ve so many new incredible people, artists and non-artists alike. So, getting feedback and the  opportunity to talk to so many different people about my work has pushed me on what I am  creating and critically analyzing why I am making it. Goldsmiths, especially, has been such a  profound experience in terms of the cohort I have the privilege to be a part of and see how others  operate in their practice to then reflect on my own. 

What are your ideal conditions or catalyst for creating a “good” piece of work? 

This is a tricky question, I think “good piece of work” is a subjective phrase. Personally, I never  feel any of my paintings are finished, so it is hard for me to stop and consider something good or  done. But, on the other hand, I just love to create, so sometimes, when I put something away and  move on from it, I can revisit a painting and see if I am satisfied with a fresh set of eyes.

Tell us about the inspiration behind one of your works? 

Nasty Women was created as direct commentary to when Donald Trump referred to Hilary  Clinton as a Nasty Woman during one of their debates. Politics aside, the feeling I got from him belittling a woman with such crude, and offensive language inspired me to reclaim some form of  agency from it. The model’s gaze is directly engaged with the viewer, seated comfortably,  grotesquely eating Cheetos. The power dynamic in scale is directly meant to be “eating his words”. We cannot control how others treat us, but I wanted to manifest in this work to rise from  derogatory language and not tolerate it. 

Something in the future you hope to explore? 

This list could go on. At the age of 26 I hope I have a lifetime of new and exciting things to  explore in my art practice and just life in general.  

Describe your work in three words: 

Fleshy, Charged, Ironic  

What do you listen to while you work? Is music important to your art? 

Honestly so many things, from rap music, podcasts, DJ sets, documentaries it depends what  mood I am in. Sometimes I just want to listen to someone else talk other times I need high  energy music to push through a session.  

What is your favorite read? 

Currently Glitch Feminism by Legacy Russel. It is an incredible book that speaks to the  contemporary discourse of intersectional feminism and the digital space online.  

Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Truly anything my mom says when I need advice on something. She is the most grounded and  supportive person I know.  

What makes you laugh?

Luckily my friends, I am fortunate to be surrounded by so many great people in my life. 

What makes you nervous? 

The realities of the world around us, it is hard to have a positive outlook on society sometimes  when watching the news.  

Is there anything you wish you were asked more often? 

Want to go on a holiday? 

Is there anything you’ve recently tried for the first time? 

Stretching my own large scale canvases instead of purchasing pre-stretched. My hands hurt but it  feels more rewarding.  

Is there anything you’ve been hesitant to try in the past but you’d like to this year? Maybe doing some ceramics, I typically just work in 2D mediums.  

Do you have any superstitions? 

Yes, coming from Italian heritage, culturally we are full of superstitions. I wear specific jewelry  that has been passed down through my family as a form of protection.  

Would you rather know what the future holds or be surprised? 

I have too many questions about the future if I think about it too much, sometimes ignorance is  bliss.  

What place in your everyday environment do you go to for inspiration? 

Probably my studio, I have a large cohort at Goldsmiths so it is always activated with friends and  critical conversations.  

What are some things you’re most passionate about outside of your practice? 

I really enjoy going to the gym, I think working out has been a great way for me to ground  myself in my daily life to stay healthy and happy.  

What is your relationship with social media? 

Can’t live with it but can’t live without it.