Kathy Ross


How did you get into making art? (People always want to know) When we were children, on an apple farm on the north shore of Lake Ontario, my older sister was the mediator, took responsibility, hoping to make everybody’s life a little less fraught. I decided my best plan was to keep out from underfoot and create my own secret world (eg. I drew flowers and trees with tiny people climbing through the stems).  Now my sister is a school principal in Vancouver, and I live in the woods west of Seattle, making the artifacts of my secret world.

I have been a full time self-employed artist since 1978.  I have pursued many materials (always sculptural) and am currently working in two areas:
1) Most of my time is spent on the map/book-collaged figures and clothing pieces (which look wearable, but aren’t). The basic method: make a framework; cover with paper.  After that, these sculptures can sometimes become armatures for embellishment/encrustation/adornment with all kinds of shiny/strange found objects.

2) I also use tea/cookie tins (cut up and soldered) to make more labour-intensive sculptures like the tin figures, heads, vehicles, houses, globes.  I like cookie tins for the colours, and the way the sculpture and the surface treatment are one process. The challenge of making something flat behave like something 3-dimensional. Lately, I use the mappified forms as armatures for the tin process too.    Studio Kathy Ross

Re: Maps
: It seems that for this lifetime I have been loaned a quantity of molecules from the universe’s available supply and it has organized itself into a shape I call ‘me’. At the end of my time, I must give back this self, these molecules, to the universe, like returning a book to the library. Now the world rushes into every aspect of my life, invasive, undeniable. Maps cover everything, charting a course that plots the intersection of my life with the world. We try to think the world is Out There but it isn’t. We are made of the same stuff the world is made of and we are part of it.

Re: Cloth: I like the movement of draped cloth, the gesture frozen to maps. (Or jewel/button/key encrusting. Or tin.) Making something soft behave like something hard.

Re: Books: You are what you read (a note for English Majors):     We live our lives on channel one, the physical plane of the everyday, yet we yearn to change the channel, move beyond the mundane.  Spiritual paths try to open a door into higher realities. For English Majors this door is opened by books.     And isn’t it strange how abstract it is, that these marks on paper become new worlds?  Because where are these worlds really?  Not here, not on channel one, but somewhere out there in the endless magic universe of our imaginations.

Re: Globes: (You will see tin globes, book globes at the art festivals) The globe obsession is coming back to me.  I think this now qualifies as a lifelong passion, especially when you think how I hugged my globe when I was a kid, and put it on top of the pile of what I’d save in case of fire.  (That and my doll Jimmy.)  I still love the wonderful roundness of a globe.  I cut out the continents not just to distinguish it from a basketball, but to use the globe as a vehicle for those contradictory things about life in the world. Negative/positive. Connected/separated. Inside/outside.

Awards include 2008 Norwescon first place sculpture,2004 Poncho Artist in Residence award, 2004 Seattle Metal Guild award, 2003 Phinney Center juror’s choice and people’s choice awards, 2002 NWDC Simpson Scholarship award, 1992 and 93 and 94awards at F Anderson Cultural Center in Edmonds, 1991 Kirkland Art Centre first place award  for Overcoat,  1979, 80, 81, 89 awards from Bellevue Arts Museum.   Collections include: Victor Borge, National Museum for Women in the Arts (DC), U of Washington Medical Centre, Burien mayor Sally Nelson, The Evolution of Sleep (commission for Outside In, Portland OR), Lillian Bartok Collection (NY), Whyel Museum (Bellevue)   Gallery exhibits include: Stonington (Sun Valley, Seattle) Friesen Gallery (Seattle), Works (Sonoma), Edith Lambert (Santa Fe), Kingsfoot (Madison), Fountainhead (Seattle), Gallery 6311 (Seattle), Gallery 110 (seattle) . Bellevue Art Museum, Tacoma Art Museum, various other museums and college galleries, studio shows. In 2006, I began a return to art festivals, instead of galleries.

Kathy Ross