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Work Samples

Class

Evergreen House, Hopkins, cast glass, Baltimore row-houses
Class was sited in the Evergreen House garden of Johns Hopkins University in north Baltimore. The installation referenced the relationship between the owner of the Evergreen House, John Work Garrett, president of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad at the time he bought the house in 1878, and the immigrant railroad workers who lived in the various classes of houses near the rail yards in south Baltimore. The piece consisted of 100 cast glass row-houses in 3 different sizes, each representing different classes of workers’ houses.

aria

VCCA, 240 columns of Japanese rayon paper. 

aria was sited in the Camp Gallery of the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts in Amherst, VA. The gallery was originally a dairy barn built in the 1920's. 240 columns of Japanese rayon paper
 each column from 12ft. – 15ft.   barn:  30ft. x 60ft. x 30ft.

Nine Wooden Towers

VCCA, wooden towers
Nine Wooden Towers is one part of a large exploration of various kinds of towers; built, drawn, printed and used in multi-disciplinary ways over a period of 3- 4 years. Also see "in Search of"

Web

Klotz Chateau Rochefort-en-terre - Brittany France, faceted glass beads
Installed in the courtyard of the Klotz Chateau in Rochefort-en-Terre, Brittany, France. 2000 faceted glass beads attached to monofilament and hung from steel cables.

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About katherine

Baltimore City

katherine kavanaugh's picture
Katherine Kavanaugh makes temporary, site-specific, indoor and outdoor installations which sometimes incorporate video projections. She has collaborated with choreographers, composers, and writers. She often works in printmaking and drawing. Professional activities: Site-specific installations: Art Museum of the Americas, Organization of American States, Washington, DC; The Klotz Chateau, Rochefort-en-Terre, Brittany, France; The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Sweet Briar, VA... more

aria and canto - two installations

aria was sited in the Camp Gallery of the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA) in Amherst, VA.
The gallery was originally a dairy barn built in the 1920's. During the 6 months of the installation's exhibit,  individuals and groups performed in the space including the Dance Theater of Lynchberg,  The Sweet Briar College choral arts group, poets and writers who were Fellows of the VCCA .
 
“aria” was a response to
     -large luna moths which floated through the barn at night
     -the air currents in the barn
     -4 silos surrounding the barn
     -the neo-classical columns in southern Virginia homes
 
240 columns of Japanese rayon paper
each column: from 12ft. – 15ft.  
barn:  30ft. x 60ft. x 30ft.

  • aria

    240 columns of Japanese rayon paper 
each column from 12ft. – 15ft.   barn:  30ft. x 60ft. x 30ft. 

    These 2 pieces -- aria and canto - used an incredibly light and strong Japanese usukuchi rayon paper which responds to the slightest movement of air. aria was sited in the Camp Gallery of the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts in Amherst, VA.
The gallery was originally a dairy barn built in the 1920's. I used the barn as a studio the summer before installing the piece. I installed a grid system using steel cables 17 ft. from the floor of the barn structure. The columns were formed by attaching the paper to bent aluminum rods.
  • aria from above

    Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, artist residency, columns of Japanese rayon paper 

    aria from above looking down from a "catwalk" around the perimeter of the barn The barn is  30ft.tall X 60ft.long X 30ft. 

wide with large doors on the front which allowed air to circulate freely in the space animating the paper.
  • aria shaped by air currents

    columns of Japanese rayon paper, 
artist residency, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, VCCA
    aria in gallery/barn activated by air currents
  • aria at night

    VCCA, artist residency, Japanese rayon paper. 

    aria at night through front barn doors
  • aria

    VCCA, artist residency, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Japanese rayon paper. 

    aria - view from center of installation
  • canto - from second floor landing

    Organization of the Americas, OAS, Washington DC 

    Canto was sited in the three-story central stairwell of the Museum of the Americas, Organization of American States in Washington, DC. The piece filled the stairwell beginning at the front entrance to the building and continuing upward through the central interior. The installation was viewable on all three levels as visitors ascended or descended the stairs. The rayon paper was chosen for its subtle movements as the slightest air currents caused the whole group of columns to move upwards. Japanese usukuchi rayon paper, steel cable, stairwell
 55ft. x 12ft. x 10ft. 

  • canto - approaching third floor landing

    Organization of the Americas, OAS, Washington DC 

    canto - approaching third floor landing at the top of the stairwell
  • canto - looking down at stairwell from third floor

    Organization of American States, OAS, Washington, DC, Japanese rayon paper 

    canto -- looking down at stairwell from third floor
  • canto - looking up from second floor

    Japanese rayon paper, OAS, Washington, DC. 

    canto - view from second floor
  • canto - third floor

    Organization of the Americas, OAS, Washington DC 

    this is a view from the third and last level

Ravaged

Ravaged
These  mono-prints come from a series of 50 prints and are part of a chronological narrative of my emotional response to the unmitigated power of wildfires which began ravaging vast expanses of land and forests in California, Brazil and Australia in the summer and fall of 2019. What began as a series of prints to memorialize the destruction and after-effects of the charred forest-scape, soon turned into more potent imagery.  As the fires continued to rage, I began to use actual fire and smoke in the work to show the chaotic frenzy of a world on fire both environmentally and politically.
 The world-wide effects of climate change insidiously creep into our lives as we disregard and abuse our planet.  Humans have become the victims of forces more potent than what we are able to comprehend or control.

  • Ravaged # 1

    monoprint, akua ink, smoke, soot
    Ravaged 10' x 10" monoprint akua ink, smoke, soot on BFK paper
  • Ravaged #2

    monoprint, akua ink, smoke, soot
    mono-print 11" x 17" akua ink, smoke, soot on BFK paper
  • Ravaged #3

    Mono-print. akua ink, smoke, soot
    10" x 10" monoprint akua ink, smoke and soot
  • Ravaged #7

    monoprint, 11" x 17" akua ink, smoke and soot on BFK paper
  • Ravaged #11

    monoprint, akua ink, smoke, soot
    Ravaged 30" x 22" monoprint akua ink, smoke and soot on BFK paper
  • Ravaged #4

    Ravaged - after the burn monoprint 17" x 20" akua ink, smoke, soot on BFK paper
  • Ravaged #14

    Ravaged -- monoprint, using akua ink on BFK paper. Burned - leaving smoke and soot. 11" x 17"

Class

Class
Row-houses on tall poles like birdhouses gather across the east garden and perch on top of the hill. Imagine residents of the rowhouses, like birds crossing boundaries, flocking to the country garden at the Evergreen House for fresh air and a view.
 
Class was sited in the Evergreen House garden of Johns Hopkins University in north Baltimore.  The installation referenced the relationship between the owner of the Evergreen House, John Work Garrett, president of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad at the time he bought the house in 1878, and the immigrant railroad workers who lived in the various classes of houses near the rail yards in south Baltimore. The piece consisted of 100 cast glass row-houses in 3 different sizes, each representing different classes of workers’ houses. The Baltimore row-houses near the B&O rail yards were used for models.

100 cast glass “row-houses” on steel poles
row-houses - 3 different sizes
area of siting: 50ft. x 40ft.
rowhouse heights from 8ft. tall to 15ft. tall

  • Evergreen House from back garden

    Evergreen House mansion. View from the garden where Class was installed.
  • Class

    Evergreen House, Hopkins, cast glass, Baltimore row-houses
    Class was sited in the Evergreen House garden of Johns Hopkins University in north Baltimore. The installation referenced the relationship between the owner of the Evergreen House, John Work Garrett, president of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad at the time he bought the house in 1878, and the immigrant railroad workers who lived in the various classes of houses near the rail yards in south Baltimore. The piece consisted of 100 cast glass row-houses in 3 different sizes, each representing different classes of workers’ houses.
  • Class largest size - merchant class

    Evergreen House, Hopkins, cast glass, Baltimore row-houses
    Class -- large The homes of more prosperous working families were larger, airier, and better lit; two or three stories high; mostly 12' to 14' wide, but occasionally 16'; and three bays across. They had a first-floor parlor with a side hall, backed by a dining room, with two bedrooms above.
  • class - two sizes

    Evergreen House, Hopkins, cast glass, Baltimore row-houses
    The row-house on the left is an alley house and was approximately 10 feet wide. In south Baltimore newly arrived railroad workers lived in alley houses-- often large families were crammed into these. The row-house on the right is an example of where railroad workers lived as they acquired higher paying jobs.
  • Class

    Evergreen House, Hopkins, cast glass, Baltimore row-houses
    A flock of row-houses.
  • Class at night

    Evergreen House, Hopkins, cast glass, Baltimore row-houses
    Class at night
  • class - view from behind

    Evergreen House, Hopkins, cast glass, Baltimore row-houses
    view from the back of rowhouses

Nine Wooden Towers

Images of towers began seeping into my work as drawings.  They showed up casually at first then with a kind of urgency.  When they amassed into a large group of prints and drawings, I felt compelled to build them in the landscape.  “Nine Wooden Towers” was an installation built in a large field using downed trees and scrap lumber.  The towers I’m interested in are not modern telecommunication towers or urban skyscrapers. They are raw and primal and built by hand.  They are scrapped together by a need to piece a puzzle, to find an answer, to settle the longing. 
 
Review of Nine Wooden Towers___________________
            It seems impossible to encounter Katherine Kavanaugh’s nine Gothic wooden tower structures, arranged elliptically and rising from a recently mowed field on this Virginia farmstead turned arts colony, and not be struck by a series of compelling analogies: the guard towers of internment and concentration camps; prison watchtowers; the burning towers of Troy; the World Trade Center towers in flames. Less austerely, they recall the rickety play forts of childhood where, even as children, we learned to deny the history of our invasion, instead play-acting early settlers defending themselves against the indigenous people who preceded us.   Kavanaugh’s installation also evokes the strategy of setting signal fires to warn farming peoples of invaders, perhaps in the Bronze Age, or, in more peaceful times, some ancient solar ritual celebrating the growing season as spring evolves into summer and solstice approaches. In 2007, when living in the United States increasingly means being subjected to unprecedented government scrutiny as this regime continues to erect structures of surveillance and control—structures that “tower” over the heads of most of its citizens—it is necessary to remind us all of the impermanence of such constructions, however imposing, as well as of our own responsibility to dismantle them before they come to seem a natural part of the landscape. Like Kavanaugh’s own towers, conceived of and fabricated in less than a week’s time, such structures seem to have arisen overnight and without warning; they are as mesmerizing as they are eerily familiar.
           
Susan Gubernat, poet
Assistant Professor, English department
California State University, Hayward, CA

in Search of

in Search of
An installation at Stevenson University, Stevenson, MD using sapling poles and rope with projected video of woman running through Nine Wooden Towers.
poles - 16 ft tall 
platform -  4ft x 4ft

in Search of
a poem by Jennifer Wallace

 
We seek a form, a shape — adequate enough: the kitchen table, mother’s leg — the thing
to hoist ourselves. Barely arrived, we already aim for the sun.
 
Piling our maple blocks, we are makers from the start. A log laid across the stream,
the bark boat with its leaf sail, a ladder to a platform in the pines. Something
 
makes us want to cross, to climb. Something we are born with invents a larger lens, metal wings,
rockets. We scheme.
 
Our plans — torn and pasted — made, remade. The secret covered, uncovered and covered again.
Higher, ever higher. To be grazed by the hawk’s wing; fed,
 
like Elijah, by the ravens’ horny beaks. A vigil, and whatever we might surmise about blue-black space,
the limits of what we see.
 
What is wished for? To be tree-like, god-close? Outside of time? We are preoccupied with prominence.
The point, through whatever haze or light,
 
always farthest from “what is.” It’s not enough to see the sun and stars, but to be one of them. Or
beyond, the furthest place. Something in us knows
 
there’s something we must find. If only we could find the form, build the thing. What kind of wood? How
many steps? Where to tie the ropes? Spindly or spired?
 
And the other ones, those we make with hope or the nails of loss and grief…   the thing through which,
with which, we might arrive above our flesh and blood,
 
above the moss, outside of air. Would it be benevolent? Malign?   A place we don’t need eyes to see.
Unfixed, unlike the towers we make to get us there.
 
A place to startle us. As in love’s moment. Would we let down our guard? Forget who or what we seek?
We would arrive at the deepest eye, the one
 
that would let itself be entered, be taken in and taken. What would we, then, what could we, name the
seeker? The carrier of thought and all its structures?
 
What is known—at last: a certain rust and beetle-bitten ruin, the sure reunion with the roots of all we’ve ever feared or dreamed.

  • in Search of

    Stevenson University Stevenson MD, wooden tower, video
    Wooden tower made with saplings and sisal rope sited in gallery of Stevenson University. Video contains image from Nine Wooden Towers. 15ft tall by 4ft x 4ft base
  • in Search of

    Stevenson University Stevenson MD, wooden tower, video
    Wooden saplings, video projection with sound
  • in Search of

    Stevenson University Stevenson MD, wooden tower, video
    Wooden tower made with saplings and sisal rope sited in gallery of Stevenson University. Video contains image from Nine Wooden Towers. 15ft tall by 4ft x 4ft base
  • in Search of

    Stevenson University Stevenson MD, wooden tower, video
    View through "tower" with photographs of individual built towers behind.

Needles

I was provoked by imagining a wall as an impermanent and penetrable border.  In the scope of time, a wall creates a temporary boundary in a temporary space. 

I liked the way the needles were nearly invisible in a room and could be easily missed until the viewer was at a particular angle so that the needles magically appeared in all of their massiveness. As I stood silently observing viewers entering the space, many came in, missed the piece and walked out wondering what it was all about. 
9,000 - 10,000  sewing needles into wall
often threaded with monofilament

  • Swarm - detail

    needles
    detail of 9,000 sewing needles into 12ft. x 20ft. wall
  • Swarm

    needles
    9,000 needles into 12ft. x 20ft. wall
  • Whorl

    9,000 threaded sewing needles into wall needles threaded with monofilament on 12ft. x 14ft. wall I liked how the monofilament moved with the slightest whisper of a breath as viewers came close
  • Whorl - detail

    threaded needles
    detail of Whorl threaded needles into wall surface
  • Breath - detal

    Breath 5,000 threaded needles into wall
  • untitled -- needles

    needles
    Needles between doorways

Web

Installed at the Klotz Chateau in Rochefort-en-Terre, Brittany, France - an artist residency.

This installation was a response to the hundreds of spider webs found in the grasses and outbuildings at the chateau.  It was constructed in the large entrance courtyard to the chateau so that visitors could walk into/under it. At night ambient light caught the beads and monofilament to mimick the constellation charts of Northern France.
Steel cable, monofilament, 2500 faceted glass beads, clover
15ft. (h)  x 300ft.(l)  x 85ft. (w)

  • Web

    Klotz Chateau Rochefort-en-terre - Brittany France, faceted glass beads
    Installed in the courtyard of the Klotz Chateau in Rochefort-en-Terre, Brittany, France. 2000 faceted glass beads attached to monofilament and hung from steel cables.
  • Web -- detail of faceted glass beads

    Klotz Chateau Rochefort-en-terre - Brittany France, faceted glass beads
    detail of faceted glass beads, attached to monofilament, knotted on steel cables which were hung from trees surrounding Chateau courtyard
  • Web - in courtyard of Klotz Chateau

    Klotz Chateau Rochefort-en-terre - Brittany France, faceted glass beads
    Web - in courtyard of Klotz Chateau
  • breton lace

    This installation was a response to the hundreds of spider webs found in the grasses and outbuildings at the Klotz Chateau in Rochefort-en-Terre, Brittany, France. It was constructed in the large entrance courtyard to the chateau so that visitors could walk into/under it. At night ambient light caught the beads and monofilament to mimic the constellation charts of Northern France. Steel cable, monofilament, 2500 faceted glass beads, clover
15ft. (h) x 300ft.(l) x 85ft. (w)


Iceland - photographs

I spent the months of December  2016 and January  2017 in a remote artist residency in a small town of Olafsfjodorur, Iceland.  The town was in a fjord with black sand beches, 19 miles from the Artctic Circle.  Black basalt cliffs surrounded the area. At the Winter solstice the sun rose at 11:45 a.m. and set at 2:45 p.m. 
The constant darkness gave me a perspective on timelessness and was a challenge to understanding the psychological weight of darkness.  The  topography was breathtaking and visually foreign.

 

Iceland - Earth out of Balance

Earth Out of Balance
Skammdegi (Dark Winter), an artist residency, in Olafsfjordor, North Iceland in December and January 2016 - 17.
The two sculptural pieces, “Rupture” and “Dis-coordinate” together form an installation titled “Earth Out of Balance” which presents a narrative about the political and environmental shifts and ruptures of our time.
“Rupture” uses the sphere (circle) to represent the world-wide environmental degradation of the planet. While “Dis-coordinate” uses the orderly mapping of latitude and longitude (drawn on the wall) with a distorted superimposed, grid structure representing the shifting relationships of chaos and order. 

total size - 8 ft. x 20ft. x 1 ft.

  • Earth out of Balance.JPG

    Earth Out of Balance
    Earth Out of Balance 2 pieces (Rupture and Discoordinate) sea kelp and drawing with found object both -- 8 ft x 16 ft. x 1 ft
  • Rupture

    "Rupture"
    Rupture, 2017 72” x 84” x14” dried sea kelp One part of 2 part piece
  • Discoordinate

    Iceland, Olafjordor, Dark Winter, Skammdegi
    #2. Discoordinate, 2017 44” x 91” x 21” wall drawing and found object
  • Rupture - detail

    Iceland, Olafjordor, Dark Winter, Skammdegi
    detail of Rupture -- made with dried sea kelp
  • Snarl and Roots

    Skammdegi, Olafosfjdorur Iceland, sculpture
    Snarl on left Roots on right Both of these pieces were formed from hauling wet kelp from the beaches to my studio, and drying them and shaping them over time. Snarl 5 ft. x 5 ft. Roots 3 ft x 3ft
  • Snarl - detail

    "Snarl", 2017 53” x 38” x 33” dried sea kelp from Arctic Ocean
  • kelp drying

    Iceland, Olafjordor, Dark Winter, Skammdegi, kelp
    kelp drying

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