Now, you see me: A studio visit with Kaitlin Ziesmer
They say life imitates art….or, is it the other way around?
Either way, Kaitlin Ziesmer is a perfect example of an artist immersed in her practice. Step into Kaitlin’s studio and you’ll be greeted by bright, luminous colors and art made by close friends and other local makers. Over the past four years, Kaitlin’s work has been featured everywhere from galleries like Lowbrow, Point, Sally Centigrade, Abend, and Helikon, to Pablo’s Coffee, Sputnik Bar, and 9th Street Tattoo. Her work has also been shown in Texas, Oregon, Kansas, California, Chicago IL, and Amsterdam.
Kaitlin’s work, inspired by the fantastic characters of Star Wars, The Royal Tennenbaums, comic book superheroes, Power Rangers, and obscure science fiction; is light-hearted, colorful, and full of possibility. But spend a few moments more with Ziesmer’s portraits and countless questions begin to emerge: Who are these obscure, (mostly) female bodies and why do they don the heads of famous pop-culture icons? Are the identities of these figures being shrouded?... or revealed? How does the viewer relate to both banality and fame? And, of these components of Ziesmer’s dualities, which should we pay attention to?
Growing up, Kaitlin always wanted to be an artist. Beginning in photography and drawing in high school, she would later move into painting in college. However, after graduating from RMCAD in 2010, she was burnt out and took a job as a cake decorator. Having not made work for nearly two full years, we asked Kaitlin what it means to hit the reset button and begin making art again after so much time away from the studio.
“A big part for me was learning not to say ‘No’ to opportunities where I just assumed my work wouldn’t fit in…Often times those weren’t the things I wanted to do, but it definitely helped strengthen my work ethic and allowed me to produce my paintings at a faster rate. Another thing that I think is important, is showing progress pictures of my work on Instagram. Showing people that you’re actively working says a lot about who you are as an artist”.
Kaitlin often uses her own body and wardrobe as the source imagery for her paintings, but any gathering of friends and fellow artists could become an impromptu photo shoot. The work is all about play and the shuffling together of bits and pieces, and it’s this spontaneity that breathes so much warmth and mystery into the work. Kaitlin is also a part of PRIMA group; an art collective comprised of creative friends who seek to collaborate, make, and keep each other accountable.