Kate Mothes: Integrity is important

Kate Mothes: Integrity is important

Architerior spoke to Kate Mothes who runs a website for emerging artists called Young Space. We talked about her story, what art means to her and brainstormed about what is important to make it in the art world.

Kate Mothes

So Kate, what do you work with?

I’m a contemporary art blogger and curator.

Tell us a bit about your career and education.

Formally, I earned a Bachelor in Art History from the University of Wisconsin and a Masters in Art History, Theory, and Display from the University of Edinburgh. Informally, my art education began in my dad’s painting studio and on the road to art fairs when I was a teenager. I was enthralled by the process of making art, so I wanted to be an artist! I went to university initially to study fine art, but I felt stifled by the traditional programming, and was anxious about career prospects (my parents were too; I’m the eldest!), so I switched my studies to art history, and I fell in love. I studied abroad for a semester (this should be required!), and my studies emphasized Modern art.

As for my career, I’m similar to many artists in the sense that I have to keep a 9-5 job to make sure the bills get paid, and I do all of my own work in the spare time I can muster up. I started the project Young Space in spring 2014 as a way for me to keep up with art and ideas that I felt cut off from in the art history department. I realized that talking to living, breathing artists about their work, and seeing it with them, was a hundred times more exciting than analyzing paintings by long-dead folks. My goal is to both illuminate and generate dialogue around what it means to be making art today – the challenges, the rewards, the creative process, resources, and so on. And through blogging and curating, I am able to reach both wide and specific audiences, and build an archive of ideas about contemporary art that is not necessarily commercial.

What is your favourite part of your work?

Connecting with people! I absolutely love doing interviews, and seeing images of artists’ messy studios, and chatting about the joys or frustrations of how certain materials work, or discussing issues pertinent to their work or the art world at large – and means to address them, or find alternatives! The conversations are endlessly amazing. I only wish all of them could be in person, and that I could visit every single studio of every artist I write about or talk to. I also have made and continue to make some wonderful and exciting professional connections and friendships with talented people working in different fields where we’ve been able to collaborate or throw ideas around – it’s really astonishing what can come out of even a ten-minute brainstorm.

Work by Young Space artist Fabio La Fauci

According to you, what is the most difficult thing about your work?

Saying no. Rejection is always hard, whether it’s to an artist, a proposal, or something else. I actually had a moment a few weeks ago when a young man on Instagram had messaged me some images of his work, and I didn’t get back to him, and he fired back at me with some snide remarks about my selection process. I suppose there’s always the potential for someone to be irked that I don’t choose their work, but there are a lot of things that go into that decision, such as whether the artwork fits in with the overall aesthetic (which is obviously subjective as an independent project), what’s best for the project as a whole, but also what I have time for! There are instances when I have to turn down good work because I just don’t have the time to process 10+ submissions per day, conduct interviews, format blog posts, and share them, but as I build up support for the project, perhaps this will be less of an issue! 😉

Work by Young Space artist Drew Nikonowicz

Are there any art styles that inspire you extra much?

While I get excited about a lot of different contemporary art, painting is what I most often respond to most strongly. I’m really interested in the materiality and physicality of paint, and the ways it can be applied to a surface. I’m moved by concept as much as the formal qualities, but it depends on the work. And lately I’ve been really into pink – which is kind of weird, because I’m not typically a fan of the color pink anywhere else!

How do you find new artists?

I used to search online endlessly by literally typing art schools into Google and scanning through endless CVs and web pages trying to find artists to write about. But then the tables turned when the Instagram gallery and the site began to take off, and now I work almost exclusively from submissions that I receive via the site. If I find an artist’s work in a gallery or somewhere online that I really respond to, I always keep a little notebook with me that I jot down names in, and I’ll occasionally reach out to try to talk to them too!

Do you have any dream artist or gallery that you would like to work with?

I honestly can’t think of a single one because there are so many I’m a fan of! I’d be in my element in any collaborative artist-run space where ideas and experimentation are shared openly, in either the process of making or displaying contemporary art.

Work by Young Space artist Cynthia Cruz

Finally, what do you think is the most important thing to keep in mind, working in the art world?

Integrity is the word that comes to mind, which I value in others and hold myself to a standard. Integrity in our work, whether it’s painting, selling, or writing about art… Sometimes dollar signs or lucrative opportunities start pulling you away from the real reasons you do what you do, and it’s important to sometimes take a step back and remember why it is you spend so much time doing your thing. It might take awhile, but it always pays off one way or another if the work is done honestly and for the right reasons.

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