The Art of oook

oook contributor Nico Boesten sat down with oook creator Katie Brennan, who is also an artist, to learn more about her artistic practice and

NB: How long have you been creating art professionally?

KB: Ha, I’m still not entirely convinced that I have begun to produce art professionally, especially as it has always been interwoven with all the other things going on in my life. But I suppose you could say that I began to produce art, in my case paintings, professionally when I completed my MFA (Master’s in Fine Arts) in the spring of 2009.

NB: Why did you decide to become a teacher as opposed to being a full-time artist? (…you know what I mean)

KB: I remember in my second year of art school looking at one of my profs and how she led her life (teaching, making art, traveling, curating, writing and doing public art projects, etc.) and thinking “now, that’s for me”.  I mean, I love making art, but I also love the interaction I have with my students. I’ve never felt that just making my living as a completely full time artist was really for me. I like to be doing a handful of things at once. I love my studio and the time I spend there alone with my thoughts, but I also need outside stimulation. What a better place to get that than from my students.

NB: What inspires you to create art?

KB: Hmm, I’ve always just done it. My family loves to regal people with the story of how they came home one day me smashing light bulbs in the yard only to glue them to the outside of a lamp shade. I thought it was great and ironic; they thought it was ugly. As I’ve pursued an education in visuals arts, making art has become a way to court surprise and play. I love the feeling of wonder I have when a painting starts coming together with such beautiful synergy that I can barely keep up with the ideas that are coming into my head. So really it’s a quest to find that feeling again and again and again that inspires me to get back into the studio to paint.

NB: What is the ultimate response you could get from someone who looks at one of your pieces?

KB: Tears of joy. (laughs) No, the ultimate response is when someone picks up on things that I was thinking about while making the work and perhaps responds to the work in a way that totally shifts or reveals something in the work that I never saw before.

NB: What’s the best and most important thing you can pass on to your students?

KB: Trust yourself. In art school, students become consumed with making “great” art. But by the time they listen to what everyone else thinks is “great art”, they loose site of what they think is “great” art and/or why they are making art at all. I always try to encourage my students to listen to themselves, because this is the only way you will learn what you think is great art. When you know this and stick to it, then all your work will come that place of honest passion and inspiration, and ultimately, be better for it. Don’t make work to please someone else. Always please yourself first.

NB: With this new project, how do you hope to inspire the artistic community in the Okanagan?

KB: For me, it’s always about raising the community awareness of what kind of arts and cultural events are going on right around us. There’s so much going on and some people just have no idea. oook is about providing people one reliable place to learn about arts and cultural events straight from the people who create and put on these events. My hope is that as more people become aware of the events going on, via, that they will start attending more events; especially events that they may never have thought about attending before. It’s always struck me that there is a disconnect between cultural producers and their audiences, particularly for individuals, smaller groups and organizations. oook comes straight from cultural producers. There’s no middle man.

NB: How can we (or anybody reading this) help you with your goals for this site?

KB: Say hi [email]and express an interest in getting involved (write a feature, list an event, become a regular contributor, spread the word to your friends, etc.). This is one of the most exciting things about taking the OKnow list from just an email into the full website. I’m going to be able to interact with the arts and cultural community of the Okanagan in a whole new way. I can’t wait to how it evolves and what surprises it brings!

Leave A Comment