“As a poet I hold the most archaic values on earth. They go back to the Neolithic: the fertility of the soil, the magic of animals, the power-vision in solitude, the terrifying initiation and rebirth, the love and ecstasy of the dance, the common work of the tribe.” Gary Snyder
I am the descendant of German engineers and Irish farmers so it should not be surprising that I like to make things, first sculptures and then paintings. Though I came of age during the abstract and minimalist years, my work is figurative and narrative. Maybe my 1950’s/60’s Catholic childhood should be mentioned with its reel of otherworldliness running alongside the everyday aspects of one’s life. What a rich mix it was – the politics, the visuals, Latin masses, the music, heroic saints, a long history around the world.
I am still interested in the mysteries of the world, the ultimate things and am always looking for the delivering image. My almost 40 years in Montana’s powerful landscape has had an impact, but more than rendering physical description, I use the landscape as an arena for psychological and emotional takes on the world. Even I don’t exactly know how the combinations of things come about in my paintings but the best ones have an air of inevitability about them. There are many “travel” pieces, travel representing any kind of exploration – new locations, new ideas – and now my concerns are climate change and our fraught relationship to the natural world.
And the many deer paintings? I sometimes joke that I have a deer for every occasion but they are versatile - existing both just outside our windows and in high remote places - so they easily play a variety of roles. And the figures are nudes so that we can more easily insert ourselves in the painting, imagining essential interactions with the birds or animals.
That is my focus: we humans learning to see the wildlife around us and the earth beneath our feet that so sustains us. We Americans especially have a lot to learn. And not much time.
Kathryn W Schmidt