Karla Kantorovich: My Art is a Way of Finding Peace in Chaos, Unity from Fragments
Karla Kantorovich, an assemblage mix media artist from Mexico, based in Miami, FL shares a little bit about her art, inspirations and process.
NY-ARTNEWS: When talking about your art, you stated that you like to find beauty in the imperfections, and you understand the passage of time, the deterioration as part of life, the circle of nature in all objects and bodies. For many this side of deterioration and wearing down, embodies mostly the end of a cycle, an era or life. You have created art from that, how do you find a new beginning from a deteriorated object or material?
KK: I like to work with disregarded materials, found objects, I play with their shapes and forms. When I like the composition, I sew these parts together with a very thick thread, making a quilt or a tapestry out of the materials. I view sewing as metaphor—a way of rebuilding, healing, and mending — in order to achieve oneness again. Sewing broken pieces back together in a new way allows us to renew and proceed. Then, I integrate the piece with paint, in order to transform the material, I treat the composition as if it is one piece, even though it’s made of so many parts.
NY-ARTNEWS: What process do you go through to select the material or medium you want to revive and how do you decide which ones you want to combine to create your pieces?
KK: The materials find me; I don’t find them. Usually, there is a quality that attracts me to them, the hues, subtle nuances, texture, or shape. I am guided to use materials that are weathered, old, and disregarded. When in nature, I am drawn to mature leaves, the irregularity of bark, the earthy tones, and the pure pigments of the earth. I like the shine of metals but only when they are tattered, touched by the environment. I also love fabric, the feel of it, but I also gravitate to ripped, used, worn textiles, the old pieces of embroidery that have been passed down from generations to generations. For me, it is the old that has memories and history; it has experience, and it has been in many places.
NY-ARTNEWS: From Mexico to now living in Miami, how have your origins affected the way you create your art?
KK: Mexico is part of me, part of who I am, it is embedded in my being, it is a way of perceiving things. Mexico for me, means color, richness, craft, and culture but also tremendous darkness and injustice, extreme poverty and need. It is this contrast that was and sometimes still is a struggle for me. I always remember asking myself, how is it possible to live in such different realities in the same place? Eventually, I understood that everything in life is that way; there are always two sides of everything, two opposite possibilities, and duality is indeed a constant.
NY-ARTNEWS: How would you describe your art?
KK: My work can be situated aesthetically somewhere between matter painting, art povera, and assemblage. The materials and the texture are definitely consistent elements throughout my work. It may also be considered under the category of fiber art. Even though I meddle with paint and pigments, my work is composed of different kinds of fabrics, including embroidery, knitting, and crochet. It is freeform, and it hangs as a tapestry. The art pieces are made out of different things sewn together, materials that have been in places that tell a story. The parts sewn together make a tapestry, a composition that looks like one piece, even though it’s made of multiple parts. Then, intervened with paint, and it’s distressed, weathered, revealing a sense of the passage of time. My art is a way of finding peace in chaos, unity from fragments.
NY-ARTNEWS: Art is very subjective to the eye of the viewer, the experience is somehow marked by their opinions, beliefs, and knowledge. What would be the ideal message you would like to communicate through your art?
KK: I would like them to reflect on the idea that there is hidden beauty in imperfection. That things and situations can be changed and transformed, that there is always a different way of perceiving things. Also, that it is possible to find the unity in the distorted, the broken, and the dissonant. And hopefully my work serves as a reminder that things can be healed, sewn back together again.
NY-ARTNEWS: Is there a specific time or artwork that has influenced your career? Which artists have influenced you?
KK: Along my career I have had different artists that I have admired and that have shaped in some way the way I worked. El Anatsui, is a contemporary artist that is known for his bottle-top installations. He transforms simple materials into complex metal tapestries, raising awareness in topics such as consumption, waste, and the environment. El Anatsui inspired me to let go of the rigid structure of the stretcher bars and let the canvas hang free. El Anatsui’s work is an inspiration for many reasons. I find the shapes, colors, and textures that he creates aesthetically pleasing. He upcycles a material, and in so doing he helps a whole community. He has been able to provide resources for entire families. My desire is to eventually have people collaborate with me, using fabrics made by a community in need. I would be truly accomplished if I could help them through my art.
NY-ARTNEWS: How do you find inspiration, what inspire you to start working on a project, is it a set of materials you have at the time, a vision you have or is it something else?
KK: All of the above, the ideas come to me, sometimes they are so many that I have more ideas than time to make them. I often write them down, so I don’t forget them, sometimes it’s just something I see, something I found. Mostly, even If I have an idea, and a material, inspiration just comes, and then I need to work on it, without thinking, it just comes from a different place, and I just respond.
NY-ARTNEWS: You are currently studying for a master in studio art, how is that influencing your your work and process?
KK: The MFA definitely has opened me to different ways of thinking, it has opened me up to keep on experimenting and searching for different ways of expressing myself, although every medium I use, I end up giving the same message. I want to continue evolving my practice, and I want to use the creative power of art to help the community. I want to teach and be involved in the community actively using art to heal.
NY-ARTNEWS: You have exhibited your work internationally in many important cities like Florence and Rome in Italy, or Chicago in the United States, how has that changed your vision or inspiration?
KK: As an artist, it is always exciting to have your work exhibited, when exhibiting, you are revealing your most intimate truth. I do art because I need to say what I am saying, it is more a need than actual work, but to have people resonate with what you are saying and to be able to give the message across, it’s very fulfilling and gives you the energy to do more.
NY-ARTNEWS: When you are exhibiting your art to the public, you open yourself to opinions. Has that had any impact in the way you create, plan and process your art?
KK: It is very enriching to know you can impact people, but despite that, I end up doing and saying what I need to say. I express myself directly from my soul, and don’t let my mind, or other voices intervene much.
NY-ARTNEWS: What is next? Do you have upcoming projects that you want to share with our readers?
KK: For now, I am just following my intuition on what I need to manifest, and getting involved in community projects as much as I can, in order to share the transforming possibilities when being in touch with art.
You can find more information and learn more about Karla Kantorovich and her art at www.kantokarla.com