THE MONTH of October carries a lot of weight, from the traditional harvest moon rituals around the world to the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Matthew’s destruction here in Savannah. Katherine Sandoz’s new show, "October," captures that range of emotion through her work. The exhibition opened on Oct. 5 at Location Gallery at Austin Hill Realty and will remain up through Oct. 27.
We spoke with Sandoz last week.1. How, specifically, did Hurricane Matthew inspire you to create “October”?
Peter Roberts, Location Gallery’s director, and I conceived of the show directly in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. Collaborating with Laney Contemporary, we knew we had a year to create the work, the exhibit’s design and layout and the opening evening’s production and planning. The paintings, textiles and installation feature the landscape and botanicals prevalent in October in this region and weave concepts from traditions and religions that are historically celebrated in the month of October.2. What are those traditions?
In the last days of summer, October means many things to many people. Whether called Gort or Winterfylleth, Tishrei, Muharram, Diwali or others over the globe, the eighth month in the old Roman calendar marks the mystery and magic of the period between summer and winter when the veil between the worlds thins. For Savannah, October also marks one year since Hurricane Matthew changed our landscape, the light filtering through it and our manner of seeing nature and ourselves in it.
The “October” series features the plants and vegetation present during the month of October and offers an exploration of paint, color and pictorial space. The layers of paint suggest that the viewer travel beyond the richly colored surfaces to find other worlds and possibilities within the colors, shapes and textures. The paintings honor nature’s abundance, its fiery will to live and the cycles of time, weather and life apparent to us all. Similarly, the harvest moon asks the same of us: to mark time, abundance, the harvest, our community, family and the greater cycles of nature.4. How do your works interact with each other in the space, particularly the installation?
Vines, for the Celtic polytheists, had served as conduits between these worlds, and you can see within the exhibit their prevalence. All the botanicals featured somehow embody one or more of the traditions associated with October. For example, six pomegranate seeds, it is said in Greek mythology, were ingested by Persephone who then went to the underworld for six months. Winter followed. She resurfaced at spring and the fertile time recommenced. The fruit is also considered a symbol of abundance and fertility. The wall treatment installed within the foyer of Austin Hill Realty allows the viewer to be “wrapped within a painting” as the space is neither wide nor deep yet one can travel the space in all directions. The textile drapes whose patterns are taken from the paintings serve as yet another layer through which one can explore the building and the exhibition layout and design.5. Give me some background on yourself as an artist. How long have you been creating? Is this show indicative of the style you gravitate towards or is it a departure?
I arrived in Savannah in 1995 to follow graduate studies at SCAD. I also taught there for ten challenging, fun-filled and informative years. After receiving a second MFA from SCAD, I began a full time studio-based art business. My evolution since that time has been marked by technical, material and conceptual shifts while remaining steadfast in my appreciation of Savannah’s natural beauty and that of art and design’s formalism.