In our latest artist interview, we sit down with Katie Fiszman to delve into the intricate layers that compose her creative process. Fiszman begins her artistic journey with initial sketches that focus on capturing spontaneous visual elements. As she transitions from sketch to painting, these elements evolve into an intimate dialogue that reflects her quest for autonomy and balance.
Interestingly, Fiszman’s art is deeply intertwined with her daily life experiences, particularly her routines like the school run. Her paintings act as a mirror to her internal debates about relationships, societal roles, and identity, especially as a mother navigating a complex educational system. Fiszman views the act of painting as a mode of accountability, urging us to reflect on our role in the broader human story. Her works challenge the passivity encouraged by consumer culture and call for a more engaged, intuitive interaction with the world.
Kelly Foster – To begin our discussion, can you share what goes through your mind when you start a painting currently?
Katie Fiszman – Initially I don’t delve too deeply into heavy concepts or emotions. I focus on quick sketches and I look for visual elements that capture my attention in the moment.
Kelly Foster – How do you then transition from intuitive initial sketches to a full painting?
Katie Fiszman – I hone in on the things that resonate with me and develop them further. The choices I make become an inner dialogue that has to do with cultivating a sense of autonomy and balance. Visually this means, for example, that I might notice a specific line—perhaps one that narrows and then thickens. This line might seem to dance, inviting me rather than dictating. I’ll then try to recreate that line because it carries feelings of flexibility and transformation.
Kelly Foster – It seems like you’re establishing a dialogue with these marks and gestures, giving them their own life. However, you also like working from still life and other concrete inspirations like your school runs. How does that factor into your creative process?
Katie Fiszman – My current practice is based on an evolving exploration that allows my daily life to intertwine with this process. For example, the shapes in my paintings remind me of the changing landscape that I encounter while moving along winding country roads during the school run. Also on those drives, unless there’s extreme weather or other traffic on the road, I find myself free to enter moments of introspection that eventually fuel new ideas for paintings.
Kelly Foster – Can you speak more about how your daily life connects with your art?
Katie Fiszman – Amongst other things, the act of painting is a form of dialogue within the artist. I find the developmental process of a painting is similar to that contained within everyday interactions. For example, certain parts of a composition may be diminished through the addition of a particular colour, in the same way that the trust within a relationship may be altered because of a comment made. My paintings reflect an ongoing internal debate about relationships, boundaries and identity. My overarching question always seems to come back to the tension between reliance on societal roles and the need for self-expression.
Kelly Foster – Do you see your art as a specific commentary on societal roles, like motherhood?
Katie Fiszman – I’m exploring this through my current series based on the school run which now includes three figures – a driver and two passengers. Through the addition of these characters into what was previously an abstract painting, I’m beginning to describe one facet of my experience as a mother with young children. I’m expressing the feeling of being stretched in order to bend to the school rhythm in an education system that doesn’t entirely make sense to me. Longterm, I feel myself working towards communicating solutions for feelings of powerlessness and the kind of materialistic and binary thinking that I feel compounds them. It starts with taking stock of our thoughts, feelings, and actions.
Kelly Foster – Are you hinting at the idea that each of us must be accountable for our actions, thoughts, and the impact we create?
Katie Fiszman – At the end of the day, I think that’s what life is all about – becoming accountable for your part in the great story of humankind whether you feel like you signed up for it or not. This can be an overwhelming realisation and one that can leave us wanting to hand over responsibility to others especially where historical decisions with long-lasting impacts are concerned – the ones that we don’t personally feel responsible for. Through any creative act though, I believe we can begin to tackle this sense of indifference that is encouraged and soothed by consumer life.
Kelly Foster – So you’re saying we should be more proactive than just constantly consuming?
Katie Fiszman – I believe so – it can feel impossible at times, especially when the waking day is filled from morning to night with the essentials of life and escapist screen scrolling in between, but I think it’s important to try. We’re naturally creative beings capable of participating in life rather than falling ever deeper into our roles as consumers at the expense of our creativity. There needs to be a balance. I remember my own turning point within this particular dilemma back in the late 90s when I was an art school student. I was alone watching television when it dawned on me how lost and hopeless I felt. I then became aware of an inner voice that urged me to turn off the television and it asked me if I wanted to change my life. I chose to trust this voice, leading me on a transformative journey that involved withdrawing from art school, giving away most of my possessions and going to work as a volunteer. To my friends and family it all seemed a bit odd, but to me it was the first really significant step that I made on my life’s path, after learning to draw that is.
Kelly Foster – It sounds like embracing your inner voice, even in challenging times, has been pivotal. And your art seems to be a medium to communicate with this intuition.
Katie Fiszman – That’s an accurate way of putting it. And this is something I’ve experienced as a viewer as well as a maker – art’s potential to inspire and facilitate intuition.
Kelly Foster – Thank you. This conversation has been enlightening. Delving into your process has been really fascinating.
Katie Fiszman – Thanks Kelly, I’ve also really enjoyed our conversation. I look forward to more.