Generously, Katie and Harry shared their spaces with us. Conversations were rich and warm. Hospitality was offered us…a group of diverse travelers from the city. Stories were told…so many stories that connected objects to the souls of the artists. A fabulous journey into the lives and motivation for creativity, in the sense of art practice, but also largely in the sense of a vision coming to life in the form of the Kiyooka Ohe Arts Centre. I highly recommend that your contribution be known as funding is always challenging for the arts opportunities and they are imperative to the health of our communities. In the spring, a group of us will be heading out to clean out scrub brush and physically labour on the property. Let me know if you wish to join us.
Perched on Katie’s kitchen counter…a simple black sketchbook…a place to capture her ideas while she is preparing food or perking coffee. Some of the collages feel so familiar to me. For one, I also enjoy using found objects such as onion/fruit sacks as underpinnings in my collage work. Katie lovingly leafed through pages…chatting with us along the exploration.
It was in the kitchen that I shared with Katie how commercial galleries had once owned my spirit…and how, belonging, caused me to freeze. She received that disclosure with so much warmth. I will carry the conversation that followed, forever…a very healing experience.
I’ve tried to write about Katie three times. Each time, I got to a point and had to stop. Today, I begin to write again.
As I reflect back on things that Katie said and then the unspoken power of her sculpture, I am left somehow overwhelmed. It seems to me that she is some version of a fireball. She is compacted energy that has been burning deeply for a lifetime and in connection with that light, I was left in awe. So, once in awe, I had to go looking for a poem.
No luck. I found no poem for Katie Ohe. That, in itself, is unbelievable. However, the act of looking for a poem caused me to sit for most of that particular afternoon, reading poetry, and that can’t be all bad.
After some days…more than a week…I found this. It describes something of Katie Ohe.
A short version, my version, of one of Katie’s stories (and really, you need Katie to tell YOU her story…nothing compares).
Katie’s Dad gave Katie and her brother each a potato to peel. Katie created a long spiral of peel…I think she said that she tried to peel the entire potato in a single peel. (Her brother doesn’t even remember this, but Katie does.) Her father then attached the end of her peel to a pin or a needle, suspended it by a string and then set the peel to spinning. This image has stuck with her all of these years. (The metaphor…the image of the twirling potato peel offered up in this narrative, illuminated some very basic principles of Katie’s work…at least I think so!)
Katie spoke of Weeping Bees and Typhoon…and so much more and shared her studio space with us. I was in awe the entire time. I was left speechless.
Katie Ohe IS a poem.