Kat Ryals has had quite the year, curating at Spring/Break Art Fair via Paradise Palace, being the title artist at Heart Frame's Orion's Armory, and a myriad of group shows. She has become recognizable for her space meets witch discocosmos and immersive otherworld lenticulars.
I had the chance to sit down with the kitsch witch and chat a bit about art, identity, and the city that never sleeps, check out our conversation below.
How long have you been creating?
I've enjoyed making art since I was a little kid. I won school art competitions in grade school and went on to be one of the few students who completed the art program at my small high school before heading off to art school for college.
What does this most recent series mean to you? What inspires the imagery of your work?
My work largely examines the enchantment of ornamentation and special effects and seeks to understand the relationship between power and illusion. How does this relationship function on an individual level as well as in large encompassing systems such as capitalism and organized religion?
Through dichotomies of natural and artificial, sacred and profane, and luxury and kitsch, I am exploring systems of power in the spiritual and the temporal. Additionally, my work addresses the contemporary themes of mass consumption and technology dependency.
Questions of authenticity and hierarchy also play an important role in my practice.
How do you define identity? How do you define your identity?
I think identity is something that can be both fixed and fluid or both nature and nurture. I think everyone is born into a specific identity based on culture, genetics, geography, etc., but how you, yourself identify, can shift as you grow and accumulate experiences, move around, discover different wants and needs for yourself, bond with different social groups, etc.
How does your Augmented self differ from your innate?
For me, my augmented self is one that is adorned. I think your innate self is just as you are plain and simple. But putting together an outfit or makeup is a way of augmenting yourself (or enhancing) to project a certain statement or identity out into the world.
What is your New York Story? How did you get here? How long have you been here?
I've lived in the south most of my life. I was born and raised in Arkansas, with family ties to south Louisiana. After graduating from college in Savannah, GA, I moved to Tennessee for a few years to take a break from school before coming up to New York to pursue graduate school. I attended Brooklyn College for my MFA, graduating in 2015.
Favorite place in New York?
My favorite place to eat and hang out was previously the Trailer Park in East Village, which has since closed.
It’s really hard to say, though, because I eat and go to so many different places! I love Robertas (who doesn't?), Awash, and Mission Chinese. I would have to say my fave place to hang out, though, is the MET (it’s kind of my happy place), or Coney Island in the summer.
Check out Kat Ryal's art in person at Augmented, pop up art show and party.