Artist Profile: Katy Seals / by Helen Grant

Writer: Helen Grant

To cast your gaze upon Katy Seals' work is to take a brightly colored trip down "the last temptation of Lisa Frank" lane. Along the way there are images that may evoke a sense of quiet strength where women in the foreground loom large despite the chaos of the landscape behind them. There are also the more irreverent scenes depicted in Seals' prints, which read as if the cadre of muses are in the midst of something showy yet utterly mundane; dare I say "basic"?

                                                                     Jarrell, TX II and I, Katy Seals

                                                                     Jarrell, TX II and I, Katy Seals

In one of these portraits a barfly, rodeo queen waves to an unseen crowd. Her eyelashes are caked in heavy mascara and an unmistakable orange glow tints her otherwise flawless skin. Curiously, however, Chanel logos grace the barfly's background. The "Country Girl" in this context finds no immediate conflict between her "All-American" beliefs and her choice of French design house. Does "good" taste transcend politics? One wonders in an era where Freedom Fries are still on the menu in some places.

                                                    Doggy Style I&II, Day Drunk, Noodler, Katy Seals

                                                    Doggy Style I&II, Day Drunk, Noodler, Katy Seals

Then there are the women who eat pizza, burgers, and corn dogs. Some women "go" bad, drive hot like a $2 pistol, or suffer from day drinking gone awry. There's a performative element in these larger than life depictions and the resulting juxtapositions, for some, will be humorous.

                                                                     Untitled, Katy Seals

                                                                     Untitled, Katy Seals

"Diamond in the Wilderness: A Solo Exhibition of Works by Katy Seals" starts at 8 p.m. See this link for the details. Below is a Q and A Resonator conducted with Ms. Seals.


Q: What is thematic arc of your new series?

A: The theme I have been working with has shifted focus to color choice/ color harmonies, and experimenting with opacities and layers. I have been trying to mimic aesthetics of 1950's and 60's advertisements of cosmetics/beauty products and deconstructing into my own mutant approach. 

Q: What are some of the stories that inspire you to make the portraits you create?

A: For portraiture, I admire all the grotesque and awkward expressions the face can make and try and mimic that in my work. The inspiration ranges from a cynical stay at home house wife to a forlorn factory worker. 

Q: I noticed your new work uses more screentone compared to older portraits. An OVAC article said you got a grant to study printing making at the Frogman Print and Paper Workshop in 2014, did some of that experience make it into this new work, and how so?

A: At Frogman's in 2014 I studied Intaglio from Kansas-based artist, Michael Krueger. I chose to sharpen my intaglio skills to aid my pedagogical practice. Typically my personal work utilizes serigraphy, mono print, and painting but I wanted to learn safer, less toxic approaches. I challenge myself to absorb new techniques to bring into my studio and classroom, O.V.A.C. allowed for that particular trip with their educational grants. 

Q: Looking back on past and current work I noticed white women are predominately featured in the lowbrow lineup. Now that Trump is President, will the politics of the women who elected him be explored in a future series? 

A: That's a great suggestion for a series! Living in a rural location, I unfortunately have a plethora of muses.

Q: Hypothetical and just for fun: The bots on Twitter acheive enough sentience to join forces with server farms across the world. Together they suddenly evolve into our new Robot Overlords, how are you resisting? 

A: OooHHHhhh my! I'd have to say maybe my secluded location would allow for me to go rouge and off the grid to escape the grips of the Robot Overlords! Sounds terrifying. 

                                                        Kali, Katy Seals

                                                        Kali, Katy Seals

Artist Statement:

Diamond in the Wilderness is a collection of drawings and prints creating a visual commentary on low-brow Americana culture and folklore through found photos, advertisements, old patterns and illustrative drawings. I enjoy the didactic and often democratic quality of printmaking, which was historically used to expose imagery to the public. I feel that printmaking appropriately aids my aesthetic and subject matter, and I embrace the uncertain outcome of the process.

Artist Bio:

Katy Seals received her BFA at the University of Mary-Hardin Baylor in 2008 and her MFA in printmaking from the University of Oklahoma in 2012. She currently teaches printmaking at East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma. Katy draws inspiration from cultural phenomenon of western society regarding the bizarre and the kitsch. Originally from Texas, her work often shows her Southern roots, however, due to journeys into the the depths of youtube and cable television, one can expect to see anything from a pageant queen with a bouquet of corn dogs, to giant granny panties and Snooky paper dolls.

Artist Website: