By Christyn Pettway
Last Monday, graphic designer and printmaker Katie Garth, was the guest for the Campus Arts Council’s Visual Artists Series. Hosted by SUNY Plattsburgh’s very own professor Diane Fine, Monday’s zoom session allowed students to learn about professional artists and life events that led them to their careers.
Katie Garth recently received her master’s of fine arts, or MFA, from the Tyler School of Art and Printmaking last May. She is an interdisciplinary artist with drawing and print-based practice. During her undergraduate studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Garth studied graphic design, book arts and printmaking, working as a letterpress printing assistant. After graduating, she became a full-time graphic designer, putting out her work for five years until she attended graduate school.
Garth’s most recent exhibition features the art and poetry from her book “Best Laid Plans.” She said the book is a narrative empathizing with the impulse for escapism while also examining what is lost by withdrawing into oneself.
“Within a childhood story about my personal tendency for order,” Garth said. “I consider the merits of planning, asking for what each of us may be preparing and noting how familiar objects and mundane rituals provide their own enduring appeal.”
The exhibit is a reading room, resting room and installation all in one. With much of Garth’s art, she likes to use different approaches like “enticing color and references to everyday mundane materials…in this way, language continues to inform the work even in non-narrative forms.”
Garth uses “mundane materials” such as posted notes, memo pads, socks, etc. combined with poetry to get her point across to her audience.
Students who attended the zoom art lecture found that they could connect with Garth. Winosha Steele, a senior and BFA Art major, found that she connected with Garth because she is an artist who also incorporates poetry into her art.
“It was very beautiful to see a whole new perspective and take on these two mediums becoming a cohesive body of work,” Steele said. “The most interesting takeaway for me has to be the way she allowed her art to evolve into different creations over time.”
Maria Tibold, another senior, who is a BFA major of Photography with a concentration in Graphic Design, also connected with Garth since they are both graphic designers. Tibold sees Garth’s art as “neat and tidy” as well as relating to Garth’s “loose illustrative style.”
Others enjoyed Garth’s art lecture simply because of her personality. Cheryth Youngman, a senior and an English Writing Arts and English Literature double major, who saw Garth as “incredibly warm and approachable” or Mollie Ward, a junior majoring in BFA Drawing and Ceramics Concentration who saw Garth’s Q&A answers and insights as helpful and “appreciated her openness.”
Garth didn’t just share her art during the zoom lecture, she also introduced the Quarantine Public Library to everyone who attended. She explained that this new website was created because of the current pandemic for users all over the world to print work by established artists and other creations in the comfort of their own homes. Garth said this “punctures the virtual barrier to hold art in their hands at a time when we can not gather collectively to view it.”
The site has been visited by users in more than 70 countries and now has over 100 visual artists, poets, researchers illustrators and other practitioners, including Fine, as well as having more than 2500 Instagram followers.
Garth ends the lecture with a message to artists: “I hope that you’ll notice when someone believes in your work and keep them close, and maybe get to pass along that favor for someone else someday.”