“The bodies are feeling uncomfortable but saucy, self-conscious but also self-absorbed.” I have been excited to interview Katarina Riesing for a long time.
“Stain, Drip, Puncture”
I have spent hours looking at her incredible silk paintings, often featuring women in sheer, lace patterned, and mesh tights and clothing. They are optically very beautiful and confusing. When asking about this display of fabric, Riesing said: “I like setting up optical challenges for myself. I am very into pattern on pattern on pattern. The lace and mesh surfaces provide such a great delicate abstraction. Plus they speak to a certain type of sexuality that is both coy and kitsch.”
We discuss swimming, working in schools, upcoming exhibitions, forensic photos and more…
Can you start by describing what you do in 3 words?
Stain, drip, puncture
So, Katarina, What do you hope that your work says?
Something familiar, maybe a little gross, maybe a little gross
Aha! Oh yeah?
Hopefully all three.
tell me, What is your earliest memory surrounding art?
My parents are both artists and former art professors.
So it was all around you?
I grew up surrounded by the smell of turpentine and linseed oil and being the awkward child at school art openings. I have a lot of fond memories of my mother painting in her studio while watching daytime tv on her tiny black and white tv and smoking cigarettes.
so, Has becoming an artist ever been in question?
Yes. There was a time when I really wanted to be an anthropologist.
So, If you weren’t an artist is that what you would be doing?
Maybe personal training? I have a fantasy about opening a bar but I’d be a horrible small business owner.
What is your studio like?
I have a studio/office at school where I can get a bit messy. Over the summer I worked on the patio so I could be outside with my dog while I worked. Really though most of my work is the embroidery long-haul, and that is done literally wherever: the car, train, kitchen table. I prefer my comfy chair in front of my giant television while watching British murder mysteries. Couldn’t live without my streaming services and my dog, Franny; she reminds me to take a break and get out of the house!
What does an average work day look like to you Katarina?
I am a professor, so I spend a lot of time either in the classroom or doing class prep… School stuff in the morning, dog hike, exercise, eat, wine, embroider while watching tv, sleep.
What is the significance of sheer and lace pattern/tights and mesh?
I like setting up optical challenges for myself. I am very into pattern on pattern on pattern. The lace and mesh surfaces provide such a great delicate abstraction. Plus they speak to a certain type of sexuality that is both coy and kitsch.
Absolutely. Katarina, what is One thing people might be surprised to know about you?
I am a good swimmer, particularly breaststroke. Spent some time on Masters Swim teams during and after grad school and had a pretty regular swim regimen before covid.
Who are the figures in my work, what are they feeling?
Figures are mostly anonymous, though I will use my own body as source imagery sometimes. A lot of my references come from things I find out in the world: an underwear ad, forensic photos, fashion editorials. I like cropping in on the body so it’s not too specific to one person; that they all might stand in for my body. I don’t want to make assumptions about other people’s bodies or experiences, so I like to keep it close to home.
The bodies are feeling uncomfortable but saucy, self-conscious but also self-absorbed.
Do you have any shows coming up?
In a couple group shows. One in Nashville, TN called Shag: Provocative Textiles. It has a really wonderful line up of artists, excited to be included.
Another in NYC curated by my good friend and colleague, Lydia McCarthy, called PPL I WNTD 2 FCK at Essex Flowers Gallery in the Lower East Side. Also a really great group show.
What would be your Dream project?
Always wanted to do a totally strange clothing line with dyed silk and embroidery.
Fave historical female artists?
Christina Ramberg, Gees Bend quilters
Fave current practicing artists?
Extremely difficult and unfair question. Sarah Lucas, Billie Zangewa, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Kate Gilmore, Robert Gober, Doreen Garner, Barbara Probst, Mika Rottenberg, Ellen Altfest… This is too hard I am drawing a blank and there are sooooo many but these are fresh on my mind.
Who should she curates interview next?