Today we’d like to introduce you to Kathy Sirico.
Kathy, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I’m originally from Philadelphia. I grew up on the east coast and studied art and art history at Skidmore College. For a long time, I wanted to be a curator. I’ve always loved museums and art history. One summer during college, I got this incredible internship at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. I had such a wonderful time engaging with the art and all the people working there that it actually had the opposite effect on me—it made me want to be a full-time artist! Ever since then, everything I do, I do to keep my dream alive.
In 2014, I moved to San Francisco to get my MFA at the San Francisco Art Institute. I always wanted to live out west. The landscape is so vast, so open. I saw it as a perfect place to take artistic risks and develop my practice. I was really lucky to do two formative artist residencies here—one at Recology (the SF dump) in 2016, and another at the Lucid Art Foundation in Inverness, CA in 2017. Recology expanded my material world, while Lucid fed my internal connection to my art practice. I’ll be at the Vermont Studio Center in October for a month-long residency and I could not be more excited!
I currently work out of my studio in the Dogpatch neighborhood. Most of my materials are recycled or repurposed and I’m constantly experimenting with new techniques. I love artistic research and my studio is full of books on architecture, symbolism, art history, naturalism, alchemy, poetry…the list goes on. I always have some new idea I’m trying to work out. My hands are always busy and I love every minute of it.
Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I began as a painter but found my home in mixed media textile sculpture. I create large-scale, maximalistic sculptural works using experimental textile-based collage practices. I always say that painting is a language of skins and structures. I like to think of my work as an evolving translation of that language into the 3D world. Textiles feel natural to me—my ancestors were Italian silk spinners so my relationship with fabric feels deeply rooted.
The goal of my art is to build radical empathy. Climate change is threatening our world and often times, as humans, we are only concerned with what is affecting us directly. I want that to change. I am interested in how my art can act as a catalyst that shifts the viewer’s perspective from thinking personally to seeing at the planetary level, particularly in relation to environmental stewardship. Astronauts who see the Earth from outer space call this “the Overview effect”. This “broadening” is empathy building in nature. I am interested in how physical boundaries and pathways in my sculptures can act as internal thresholds, which, when crossed, help one reach a new vantage point where one can see the Whole rather than the parts. I want to shift the perspective.
In your view, what is the biggest issue artists have to deal with?
There’s a lot of pressure to create trendy work that will either sell well or fit in with what’s popular on the internet. It is hard to stick to your own vision when it seems like there’s an easier road to success. I really fight against this and I admire other artists who do the same. It is fundamentally important to find your own voice and use it to make meaningful work.
What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
Instagram is my favorite way to share my work! You can find me @moonrisekathy to get a peek inside my studio, see my working process and inspirations, and find out where I’m showing. I love reading comments and connecting with other artists! I also have a website, www.kathysirico.com, where you can read more about my work.