We recently celebrated Eggleston Gallery’s second anniversary, and we’ve been reflecting on all the blessings we have received since opening. One recurring reflection has been that so many of our closest friends have come to know us directly through the gallery. Kathryn Sutton was one of the first, finding us shortly after we opened. It’s always a treat to spend an afternoon with her; I don’t think she has ever visited without some homemade goodies. We’re taking the time to highlight Kathryn Sutton because we think more people should know of her and her work.
Kathryn is a woman of diverse talents. She uses a variety of media, including acrylics, charcoals, clays, and metals, even mixing them when it suits her. But her favorite way to work is with a welder. She prefers to work with reclaimed metals, like horseshoes or copper wiring, because–as she says– “I take a holistic and organic approach to my life and to my art. It is not only an aesthetic… Art is giving and receiving.” This approach requires Kathryn to clean and trim all her materials before she can even begin to weld, but the result is work that reflects her ideas about art and love for her environment. This recycling of parts is one aspect of the mutual giving Kathryn sees in her work, as she gets almost all her materials from people in her community. In most of her pieces you can still make out where some of metals came from, because she has altered their original shape so little.
We love the way Kathryn takes normal objects and uses them to create delightful sculptures. She spoke to us during our visit about seeing the textures and shapes around her, and how they fit in a sculpture. In her hands, a horseshoe is the bottom of an owl, and a vent grate is an awesome frame for a sculpture. Her ability to look at pieces of metal and see how they might instead be beautiful is incredible; she welds the world to her imagination. We’re proud to call Kathryn our friend, and we encourage you to check out her work.
Kathryn uses a lot of abstraction, meaning she pares a subject to its elemental shapes and allows her viewers to fill the remaining detail. The shapes in each of her sculptures are chosen specifically to evoke some aspect of her subject.
Abstraction goes back centuries; it’s a major element in Celtic, Mesopotamian, and Viking art, especially in sculpture and jewelry, and features prominently throughout medieval England. The goal of abstraction in art is to take familiar objects and distort or minimize them as far as possible while still evoking that object in the viewer. You could call it ‘selective simplification.’ Picasso is a great Modern example of abstraction, and Impressionists like Monet and Van Gogh pursued the same goal through different techniques.