Artist: Katia Swihart
Exhibition: Description of a Struggle
Media: Mixed Media, Acrylic Paint, Comics
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Gatov Gallery West
About the Artist
Katia Swihart is an Undergraduate at California State University and this year is also her Senior year. She is also going to be graduating this Spring 2017 semester. Swihart is a visual artist in the Studio Art, Drawing & Painting Program.
Katia Swihart’s pieces focuses on her life and even has little pieces of past. For example, she used to work in the fast food service and even became a shift leader in the restaurant she used to work at. She explained that there was a great amount of work that went into being a fast food employee and that she learned that it wasn’t a shameful job because of all the hard work.
Swihart had an interest in poetry and tried it before, but found that she loved art and creating it much more. She also reads and likes comics, as you see in much of her artwork. She also liked sports and she has an interest in high saturated colors also shown in her artwork. Swihart also found that she liked sculpting more than painting. She liked using different materials rather than sticking to just one.
Fun fact: Katia Swihart won an art competition when she was in second grade and that was one even that inspired her to become an artist.
Swihart’s work contains a mixture of straight, jagged, and rounded lines. She also uses a mixture of materials from paper, oils, beads, and even an entire mattress. Most of her work uses high saturated, bright colors that catches the eye. Her work also has the feel of a comic book because of its bright, vibrant colors.
There are many textures in her work as she does use beads, paper, fabrics, and even “Caution Wet Floor” signs. The pieces seem like they would have a rough texture when looking at the pieces, but when seeing the fabric, like the crochet fabric, it seems to have a more soft texture.
Most of Swihart’s pieces have a jagged and rugged kind of look because of the collage style she uses often. There are also geometric shapes used in some of her pieces.
Katia Swihart’s entire exhibition is put together wonderfully by her title, “Description of a Struggle.” She explains that the exhibition was a narration of her life and her struggles, both internal and external.
She explains one piece in particular named “Father’s Metamorphosis” that is about her father. She explains her relationship with her father and that he was both her hero and villain. Hero because she looked up to him and admired him, but also villain because he would also be the person that pulled her from her artistic side. Instead of pursuing art, he wanted something that had literature tied in, which is why Swihart took to poetry for a little while when she was younger. Swihart goes on to explain the piece and how she made it by taking a bat and knife and “attacking” the bed in a way. She also added the parachute to mimic a cape, like many heroes would wear.
Another piece named “In The Shadow of Young Girl in Flower” was a small love story in her life. There were two pieces put together for this piece. One was a women’s restroom sign and the other was a painting. Swihart had loved a guy and he had even haunted her dreams. This piece and experience with the guy helped her figure out some of her sexuality. Swihart also explains the idea of “male gays,” which is when males always look at women in a superior view, and the women’s sign is supposed to represent women seen as an object.
In all, her pieces were identity pieces that explored her family, career, and sexuality.
Synthesis / My Experience
Personally, I enjoyed this exhibit very much. Katia Swihart does say that her pieces express her anger and struggles. At first, I didn’t see any of that anger because of the bright, high saturated colors. Instead I had actually gotten a happier type of feel, but I found that when you actually look at the pieces, especially the mattress, there is anger behind those colors. Katia Swihart is also a very bubbly person in general and very easy to talk to, so I guess her bubbly-ness is shown through those colors, but her inner struggles are also shown by the meaning behind each piece.
My favorite piece was the mattress, not only because it was the largest piece that took up much of the space, but because it was completely different from all her other pieces. There was another piece that I found interesting and that piece was the frying basket with “fries.”
I think Katia Swihart’s piece was the most relatable out of the exhibitions I have seen so far because she was going through the struggle of choosing between becoming something she wanted and choosing something her father would be proud of. She took her own feelings and aspirations into account and chose to be an artist for herself. She chose to be something she could be proud of because she chose it for her, not for anyone else. Her pieces show the internal struggle that most students go through. We are all still trying to find ourselves, and people pushing their expectations on us isn’t as helpful as they may think. I liked that her exhibit was like a comic book with all the pieces acting as an anecdote of a small part of her life.