Katheryn Holt paints memory. Her abstract paintings are infused with half-remembered landscapes. She has been documenting her interior and exterior life through painting since she was 4 years old. Growing up on Hermosa Beach, Los Angeles, in the 1950s and 1960s, her frame of visual references was formed both by horizon lines extending across a seemingly endless Pacific Ocean and the cultural influences of post-World War 2 America. While the ocean sky reflected for her endless cloud-like possibilities of escape to imagined space and distant unknown places beyond, the constraints of growing up in the McCarthy era and the decade of rebellion that followed created the push and pull of her graphic design and painting style that has continued throughout her creative life.
Destination and disappearance are her running themes. The need for escape conjoins with a desire for a sense of stability and home, expressing itself in her imaginary dreamscape paintings through techniques of layering rich transparent oil color over silkscreened text from television scripts her father wrote and elusive photo imagery from her mother’s magazines of the day. Although the paintings are grounded by line and narrative imagery, a strong sense of movement and passage of time is never far from her compositions.
Recently this thesis has begun to manifest in her work through painterly depictions of disappearing land and sea masses caused by global warming. The lifetime theme of memory and loss of place continues to animate and shift both hers and the viewer’s visual identification of what is real and what is imagined in the world today.
Holt studied painting at the University of Southern California and graduated with a B.F.A. from Art Center College of Design. She taught at New York’s School of Visual Arts, has won awards from the Society of Illustrators, and was included in American Illustrator and Outstanding American Illustrators.
She has exhibited in many solo and group shows, including eight shows at Tria Gallery, New York; national juried competitions including the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, the Santa Cruz Art League, and the Bolinas Museum; and was featured in a recent display in the windows of Saks Fifth Avenue in San Francisco. She won first place at the American Pastel Society and is part of the permanent collection in the Kunstmuseum, Hollfeld, Germany. Her work has been shown in New York, Germany, Texas, Georgia, Colorado, and California.
In this series of land, sea and sky scape paintings, I leave behind twenty five years of introspective narrative figurative work in search of a new view of myself in relation to place and passage of time.
I choose wood panels to work on because the stability of the wood supports my mixed media application of glue, silk screen, molding paste, pastels, and oil paint. This process of addition and reduction of mixed-media gradually develops each painting into an overall visual depiction of liquid movement and deeply spectral atmospheric surface tension.
The paintings start with a foundation of silk-screened text derived from television scripts written by my father in the 1960s and 1970s, and wall paper patterns taken from the bedrooms I slept and dreamed in. Memories of narrative expressed by my father in his TV scripts conjoin with elusive images of home decorating, cooking, and beauty ads from women’s magazines to drive the emotional content of these paintings. Tape lines are then laid across saturated color panels, grounding the otherwise atmospheric compositions, creating fictitious horizons and imaginary landscapes. Bands of automatic writing cut across the horizons punctuating the doctrine in my father’s writing. Often, sand from my hometown beach finds its way into the compositions.
Although these silkscreened icons of my past history lay the foundation for my paintings, their significance gradually diminishes under the weight of atmospheric color and disappearing memories, giving way to new imaginary dreamscapes and the passage of time.