MEET KATE HENDRICKSON
STORIES & INSIGHTS by CANVASREBEL
FEBRUARY 6, 2023
We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Kate Hendrickson a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Kate, thanks for joining us, excited to have you contributing your stories and insights. Do you wish you had waited to pursue your creative career or do you wish you had started sooner?
When asked this question, I don’t have to think about it very long. I am happy that I detoured from my original path. Many years ago, I had received a Master of Fine Arts degree and was living in Chicago with three jobs. Two were part-time teaching positions at a local college and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The third was gallery assistant. And, I was trying to get established within the art world of Chicago. I subsequently worked in galleries in Los Angeles and Detroit. It was a struggle. However, a fork in the road came along that changed my professional life. I really can’t say what my path would have been had I stayed in the traditional artist career lane. It would only be conjecture of something that today doesn’t exist because I am in here and now. My artist career started out in one direction and ended up in another and finally circled back. Changing anything in retrospect?…no I wouldn’t.
As always, we appreciate you sharing your insights and we’ve got a few more questions for you, but before we get to all of that can you take a minute to introduce yourself and give our readers some of your back background and context?
After many enjoyable years as an art dealer, the need to return to creating artwork crept back into my life. Much of that had to do with the amazing artist friendships that had developed when I added their contemporary works on paper to my inventory. There was huge anxiety and fear. I asked myself, “What if I couldn’t draw anymore? Had too many years passed? How was I going to switch gears and create a new business?” A very talented artist friend, Ted Stanuga said to me, “You have had all those years of visual input, it has to output somewhere.”. He was right. Plus just like the last fork in the road if I didn’t return to creating art, could I live with the what ifs? I returned to drawing slowly proving to myself that I still had the skill set. And now, I have found my voice which is a continuing work in progress.
Wealth of Knowledge
I gained a wealth of professional knowledge as an art dealer having worked with collectors, interior designers and architects on various commissions and projects. It has helped me in my current art practice. I love projects when there is deep discussion with the collector about the commission that I am creating for them as well as helping in the decision process of what artworks are best suited for a specified space whether for someone’s home or office.
Creative Voice Found
Having expressed earlier that I had found my voice, I would like to share where the focus of my artwork is today. I ask “Who are we? How much do we conceal?”. My inquiry begins with the history of the Crypto-Jews who outwardly converted during the Inquisition but continued to practice their religion, disguising it ingeniously from the authorities. However despite concealing who they were, bits were still revealed to those who knew where to look. Jews for centuries have concealed their faith by hiding the symbols of Judaism for fear of antisemitism. To this day people still mask who they truly are for fear of rejection.
My artwork explores and reconciles feelings of discomfort within revealing that Judaism is the faith I have chosen. I ask, “How much do I reveal?”. As you look closer at my works on paper, you will see in this recent series “Revealed Faith” that I am not concealing as much of the Hebrew words from their surrounding abstracted environs as I have in the past series, “Concealed Faith”. It is my hope that as I become more comfortable sharing the personal inquiry within my pastel and graphite drawings, it will help others feel more comfortable proudly expressing who they really are.
Are there any resources you wish you knew about earlier in your creative journey?
Oh my gosh, yes! I left art school with no knowledge of business. I had to figure out being entrepreneur on my own. Fortunately, I worked in galleries and had a partnership which provided much needed business acumen. However once on my own, I still had much to learn from the administrative aspects to negotiations in purchasing and sales. Artists need to know that they can be entrepreneurial so they are able sell their artwork and create an income. There are so many options now. An artist can teach their skills, monetize their unique works with prints, license their work for use on product, etc. Income can come from multiple sources not just one.
What do you find most rewarding about being a creative?
During this time of my life, what I find most rewarding is being able to share my professional experience with younger artists to spare them the stress of trying to figure out how to survive once beyond academic life. For a few years now, I have been mentoring students through the Creative Consultant Mentorship Program of West Virginia University’s College of Creative Arts. Hopefully, my help will give them the knowledge and confidence to be entrepreneurial artists and blossom in their careers.