Artists: Katia Swihart
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Max L. Gatov Gallery West
About the Artist
Katia Swihart took her anger and frustration and made it into art. In her quest for identity and intellectual gratification from a father who felt her art is “not really art”. She has worked odd anachronistic jobs that have inspired her work. Katia is a Senior here at CSULB and will most likely be sticking around for her teaching credentials and/or grad school.
The blending of many different mediums was seamless when creating her collages. She takes from many different “found” sources to create something uniquely hers. Most objects present in her art hold some deeper meaning. A mattress used in one of her more prominent pieces has been with her for a good portion of her life. She’s moved from city to city and this mattress came with her. It is sad that this art gallery may be its final resting place, being that she has no room for it anymore. This large memory has outgrown her nomadic lifestyle, but at least she has put it to good use. Other materials used are bits of comic books she has owned and also drawings from the children of a Jewish Community Center, which is where she works, even though she is neither religious or jewish.
The ideas of identity and childhood thoughts and memories resonate clearly in the art that Katia has created. For her, art is a rebellion. She is rebelling against a father who thought her art was “not really art”. She is rebelling to find an identity that she has yet to define (and I hope by labeling her “she” I am not imposing some sort of identity upon her). Besides her rebelling, she also reflects deeply on her childhood and the childhood of others. This fits, because what she has grown to love may be considered childish by her philosophically pretentious father, who feels only deep meaning can come from the classics. That is why such names as It’s for Godot is a further jab at a father who still thinks of his daughter as a child with childish art and childish ideas. But Katia has embraced this childish demeanor and made it a centerpiece for her artistic expression.
I was shocked to find Katia utterly alone outside of her exhibit. Everyone else was clumped around every other artist, and I for some reason had her all to myself. I enjoyed her work, and her comic book imagery struck me right off the bat. I also noticed her reading a copy of Alan Moore’s Watchmen, so I decided to talk art and comics with her. This idea of comic books started as a fun introduction, but rather played into many ideas present in her work. The titles of her pieces, with such references to Batman and Beckett, were also rather intrigued to me being both a comic reader and an existentialist. I hope she finds an identity that she is content with and is still able to channel anger into a creative medium such as what she has done here.