Katie Belcher is a visual artist and curator living in Halifax. Since receiving her BFA from NSCAD (2007), Katie has exhibited nationally, and participated in artistís residencies in Canada and Europe. Her drawings are held in private and public collections, including the Nova Scotia Art Bank. In addition to her studio practice, Katie writes for Visual Arts News and other independent contracts. She is President of the Board of Visual Arts Nova Scotia and works as the Program Coordinator at MSVU Art Gallery, where she has also curated four exhibitions since 2009.
In 2007 VANS helped adjudicate a residency competition for the Annapolis Region Community Arts Council. I joined VANS during that residency, after learning about the organization from established artists and was later selected for the first VANS-in-Residence (Yarmouth County Museum and Archives, 2010). These residencies were critical developments in my career, and Iím so grateful for the support. My involvement on the Board (as Secretary and President) has strengthened my resolve to work to elevate the status of the arts in this province. Working with Visual Arts News as a writer and with on its Editorial Committee, Iím proud of how the magazine has grown, and I know Iíve grown as a writer alongside it. Through VANS Iíve fostered relationships with artists around the province that made establishing a professional practice in an unfamiliar province less daunting!
Farm to Table
Iím inspired by agricultural and culinary history as well as Dutch Baroque Still Life paintings, not only the Vanitas, but also the imagery of larders, pantries and kitchens. I enjoy meandering through antique stores and museums, observing the physical qualities of objects and specimens that will eventually make their way into my drawings. My practice has always been more influenced by literature, philosophy and music than by other visual art. Iím always reading and re-reading The Seagull by Chekov, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard, and The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard.
It is a challenge to continue to make work outside of school. Iíve learned that it is important to seek out the critique and community that artists lose when they leave the academic environment. Aside from difficulty finding affordable urban studio spaces, my biggest challenge in maintaining my art practice has been the mental and physical shift required to leave work and be creative at home. I love my job, and the creativity that I pursue in curating and writing, but it can be hard to switch gears. My solution has been to pursue artistís residencies, which allow me to delve deeply into my practice for extended periods. Iíve recently been granted a residency through Canada Council for the Arts at Citť international des arts in Paris. The time to focus will be immensely valuable to my practice. Iím bursting with ideas and canít wait to start creating.
I like to joke that I am less of a draw-er and more of a with-drawer. I draw primarily with the eraser, for both aesthetic and thematic reasons. My drawings relate to memory and lost knowledge, so the process of drawing and erasing repeatedly is metaphorically related to the searching out of information. They are large drawings in charcoal, and it seems each time I attend a residency they get bigger.
Iím currently working on drawings done in situ. While on residency in Paris, Iíll be working out some of the challenges of drawing directly on the wall, namely documenting an ephemeral work, letting it go once created, and the various textural challenges of working off paper. The content of these drawing remains rooted in the agricultural. I am also starting to examine the performative aspect of drawing.
My focus for the forthcoming year is my own drawing practice. Iíve taken a leave of absence from MSVU Art Gallery in order to attend artistís residencies in Europe. Iíll be in Paris for the fall and in January I will be completing a drawing in situ at Queen Street Studios in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Through the winter Iíll be spending three months at DRAWinternational, a residency with a focus on performative drawing practices, then to another rural residency outside of Paris called La Porte Peinte. My year in Europe will finish with a three month residency in Spain at Can Serrat International Art Center, where Iíd completed a residency in 2011. There may also be some exhibition opportunities coinciding with these residencies. I look forward to the sustained pursuit of one drawing project, a deep involvement with my practice, and lots of reading!