An interview with artist extraordinaire, Kate Capato.
So, Kate, tell me about yourself. What’s your story, how’d you get into art?
I was young when I started making art. I would create cards for the family and drew all the time. My mother and grandfather have artistic talent. My brother does graphic design. I’ve danced since I was six, so twenty years now. I had a choice between softball and dance, and that determined the rest of my life. (Laughs)
I think when it comes to photography, I got into because several of my friends got into it and would use me as a model, and I got interested in it, and being the creative mind I am, I got into it as well. But definitely college is when I dove deep into it.
What does a normal day look like for you? What is your creative process?
I would say there’s no normal day in my life. I don’t know how to answer that question because literally I have 3 different types of art, and I always have a hard time knowing what to focus on. A good struggle, not a bad struggle.
There’s days where I just spend tons of time creating choreography in the studio for a company. More recently I’ve been working on a painting, which is a little bit easier for me to get to, because I can come back to it, and it just develops, and usually it isn’t time sensitive unless someone asks me to do a commission work.
I do get commissions, but all of my work comes randomly. I’ve had people ask me to paint their house, or draw their children, and I’ll do those, but to be honest, they’re not my favorite. More recently, people have been purchasing my own personal work.
Do you have a favorite medium? Is it a mood thing?
It could be a mood thing. But I would venture to say that dance is my first love, and then painting, and then photography. Photography has escalated quickly, probably 1) because of price difference, but 2) because I think America invests more in practicality rather than the richness of art. Culturally, I just see photography being a quicker thing for people to accept, or seek out.
I think America invests more in practicality rather than in the richness of art.
[Photography] kind of coincides with life more readily than a painting or a dance performance would. I just see it as more of the practical of the three.
What do you believe the genres of dance, photography, and painting uniquely add to the life of a person?
I honestly just see them as a deeper encounter with beauty. It does cause them to think more, and if they’re willing to go there, there’s a lot of richness they could receive. Personally, and in the work that I do, I would say there are works of art that invoke experiences, maybe challenges that they’ve had. Getting them to think about truth deeper than a photograph would.
[In] some of the dances I’ve done, I work on femininity. [One] was based on Theology of the Body, but it was very simple, just about the beauty of woman. I think it invoked something in the audience that isn’t typically invoked today because of what we’re told as women, what empowerment actually is (in all honesty, it contradicts who we are as women), and when I created that dance, the girls that were in it repeatedly told me that this was their favorite piece, that there was a beauty in it, even though that they couldn’t technically name what it was they enjoyed about the piece.
I guess when it comes to painting with that…I strive to do the same thing. One of my more recent ones, called “The Prayer of Agony,”came to me [during] a personal experience I had, where I really began understanding suffering, and what God asks of us, and there’s a beautiful intimacy there, when we choose to embrace the suffering, and embrace it with Him.
It’s kind of like that concept of, when you’re really close to somebody, they’re not just going to share the good times, they’re going to share the hard times, too, and that piece of artwork is just an image of being united in suffering with Christ, and it is [of] a woman, representing all mankind, because we’re called to be receptive to Him, and in that particular image, I chose to put more light upon her to show the grace that we also receive, when we are surrendering, and united ourselves to Him.
Literally that piece of work just came to me, and I was inspired to create it and I just wanted to create it, and I didn’t know the impact that it would have on people, but apparently it’s gotten all over the place. (Laughs)
How do the various art forms you practice influence each other?
I would say I choreographed [dance] in a painterly manner. I’m constantly thinking about composition, and even my artistic directors have said they can tell I’m a painter by what I create, and then photography I think again because it just came naturally to me. I guess my eye for art has enabled me to do photography well, but I often use it in reference for paintings, like when I did that one piece on India. And I also would say I feel like they all intertwine.
My paintings are very…what word would I use? My brush-strokes are kind of…they move, I don’t know, I feel like it’s kind of like a dance with paint. Like I’m slowly getting into the artist’s style, my style, as I get older as an artist, and I tend to enjoy just very fluid strokes, and I could see that being influenced by my dance.
I’ve noticed that about some of your paintings in particular. Your brush strokes move in a very graceful, active way, like a dancer. Who are your influences?
John Paul II, I would say he’s my core inspiration. I also get inspired by Dali…I love him for his creativity, and how he shows an image. Also a mix of Degas, not just because he paints dancers, but because he has a very whimsical feeling to his paintings. I’m more inspired by what I’ve experienced, personally, in my spiritual life, that’s really what inspires what I create. Which I think is why JPII helps with that, and his teachings on Theology of the Body, just the way I look at things, really just allowed me to see what I want others to see.
I would say it’s more of the desire to know that person, and to allow that to be really displayed. More recently I’ve been asking questions of those I photograph, like, tell me a funny story, in order to bring out their actual person, versus them just smiling on cue.
To encounter is what inspires me.
What are you listening to and/or reading right now?
It’s funny, I usually carry what I’m reading with me, and it’s funny, as I mentioned (showing me the book): JPII, Love and Responsibility. I’ve also been reading Gregory Wolfe’s Beauty Will Save the World…that’s by my bedside.
Yes! Excellent book. He says everything I have been intuitively thinking over the years, but couldn’t express.
I’ve been chewing on it, so little by little…and I would say that as an artist I need to grow in my knowledge of literature, and I think his book is helping me to see the art in poetry, not that I would have ever denied that, but in seeing him go back to artists and how they portray truth, whether it’s the raw challenges of it, the questioning of it.
But his analyzing of those artists just really challenged me to continue to use my art in that same way, just bringing out more raw, more real aspects to truth. The thing I really want to avoid is kind of being the Christian radio station, how it’s just like as you name Jesus it counts, and obviously I love Jesus, but ah, beauty is like when a bird sings, and you don’t hear him say “Jesus,” but he is saying Jesus…and I’ve been trying to educate myself on that, trying to bring people without loosing the art. But I think that book [Beauty Will Save the World] has been able to educate me further on how to do that.
What would you say is the relationship between truth and beauty?
I’m constantly learning about this…I feel like a lot of this is still a mystery in many ways, but…I did a talk on beauty once, and I researched people thought of beauty, and the only thing I found was that people experienced something of awe in them…it was an awe-inspiring experience.
That being said…to be awe-inspired is to encounter truth.
Like, real truth. When you find out the beauty of how you were created, or the beauty of your body, there is such freedom there, that you are inspired to be greater, to be what you were created to be, so in that, truth and beauty intertwine.
You can check out and support Kate’s work at www.visualgrace.org/.
Joseph is a featured Humane Pursuits columnist. He works as a marketer in West Chester, PA, and writes music, articles, and the occasional short story.