Artist Statement

Artist Statement

Katherine Chilcote


I am interested in the ability of public art to transform places that are falling apart into functional and sacred spaces again, allowing art to be a form of revitalization to the neighborhood and the people.   A good painting aims to awaken the human spirit. Painting does this by finding form that can embody its intended meaning, while also awakening a collective meaning beyond a painted form.  I care for this transference, because I see paintings as continuous from one painted form or notion to another.  If form in painting is successful it stays in the space, and continues out side of the space in the minds of its viewers and in its impact on its surroundings.


I have aims and aspirations that have been passed to me by artistic ancestors, and ones that are outside of the world of painting and cross into the social activism, spiritual, and political conceptual end of  painting.  Harmony between form and content must be expressed technically and conceptually, as a philosophy in a work of art is considered.

When I see my work creating stillness in others, or creating a great amount of motions in its environment, then I know it is a successful work, and I can begin another new work.

I find objectivity in painting to be a capitalistic venture, which strikes against gifts being spiritually profound occurrences. Ownership of ideas or forms I find to be that of excellent craft, but not to be art.  Art in itself has open beginnings and endings where it can be continued, destroyed, recreated, entered or left.  A spotlight on an artist or object is a juvenile behavior. I’m interested in the creation of light or radiance out of a form, which results in a magnification.


In the setting of higher education my craft crosses disciplines as I reside in the fields of socially engaged practice, formalist figurative painting, urban design and architecture. My passion and interests in collective space making breaks down the concepts of individualism.  Embracing continuation of a strand of ideas in one piece to the next is essential. Many of my murals in the past six years have led into one another. Forms such as the frames of houses, architectural structures as paintings within the paintings, and a focus on the tranquil resting places  resides in my work.


My focus on murals that address issues such as housing reform, labor rights, and human rights are pieces that have a social context and a global mobilization of ideas.   The fields of public and private painting/mural making are separated most severely by economic divides, and my work has straddled both fields.

In collaborative mural work, I have used charrette practices commonly used in integrated design and urban planning. I find context for my work by building consensus in a neighborhood for the greater purpose of the integration of the public art, thus building a foundation for one site specific work to lead into the other. I’ve linked murals to each other on the west side of Cleveland based upon the original watershed of the neighborhood. My works there address the modification of necessary natural resources, as they relate the poverty of a neighborhood.  My works in Seattle have been focused on labor rights, and human rights, harboring back to the traditions of mural works displaying the core values of a society.