Katie O'Keefe was raised in a quiet village in the Hudson Valley, New York. From the age of 14 Katie has been dealing with Chronic Lyme and her experience with this illness has had a great impact on her creative work. Throughout her teenage years she studied drawing and painting at The Art Effect (previously known as the Mill Street Loft) in Poughkeepsie NY. When the Lyme temporarily limited her dexterity she shifted her practice to adapt; discovering the joys and sensuality of working with thread. She received her BFA in Fiber Arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art and studied textiles abroad in Turkey. While in New York she interned at Dieu Donné Papermill, where she learned the intricate processes of hand made paper. She is currently a resident artist of the City Arts live/work spaces in Station North, Baltimore, Maryland. Between 2020 and 2021 Katie was awarded the opportunity to study multiple small scale metal smithing techniques at the Baltimore Jewelry Center. During which, she focused on interconnecting the skilled crafts of Metal and Embroidery. Katie has notably exhibited her work at School 33 Art Center, Towson University, Stevenson University, The Baltimore Jewelry center and most recently presented her first solo show at Gallery CA.
Continuing in the tradition of mending with needle and thread, I stitch together layers of sheer fabric; painting an intimate picture of my healing journey. The twisting threads embedded into my work mirror the *spirochetes that have etched themselves into my body. I take note of how my body has changed, is changing, and replace fear with fascination as I trace lines of nerve pain down my arm all the way to my toes. Slowly I attempt to unravel these internal sensations, contextualizing them through the repetitious process of embroidery. The transparency of the material offers a doorway into the marks that were made in each individual layer through this intricate process. I reflect on the levels of vulnerability I am willing to hold in different spaces, with different people. In my work I have taken down these barriers to allow for an honest conversation around the entirety of what lies beneath the surface. In sharing the personal experiences I have had dealing with chronic illness, I hope to hold space for those that want to share their own personal experiences but hold back out of fear of being met with stigma and judgement.