Bitchen Diorama

Katie Pell

Exhibition: May 28 – Aug 30, 2015

What is the theme of Bitchen Diorama?
The story about customizing and upgrading is one I can relate to, buying what you can afford and building on that. And eventually, the improvements expand beyond the functional into fantasy, whether it’s your walk-in closet with wall-to-wall mirrors and a central couch, your steam shower, a chandelier in your back seat, or ornamental toast. I’m so excited I am able to expand this body of work at Artpace. I see it as silly, sort of bitter, and an even more plausible story than nine years ago, given the rise of crafting further into the mainstream and the continued mind numbing stagnation of the gender pay gap. On a more physical level, it’s great to make beautiful, decorative objects for the window.

How does it feel to revisit your Fall 2006 Artpace Artist-in-Residence exhibition?
I wanted to do it differently this time so that it didn’t seem that I was just repeating myself. This time around it’s almost as if I am making a show about the show, as opposed to my residency when it was first conceived.

The first time I looked a lot at car culture and the different sub-genres within that culture. I made things as if I was pretending to be someone who was really into each of those genres, for example Malibu style, glittery low-riders, etc. This time I’m making things as I would make them…which is a slightly hippy, white chick who is about 50 years old. It’s easier for me because the things I’m creating are more about my experiences or the experiences of my demographic. Also, the way I think of the pieces now is not quite as tied to the narrative I used before.

Why did you choose to add mirrored pedestals this time around?
As part of my process, I tend to have a show, take all of the stuff home at the end of the show, and then rework it and re-show it. I’ve always been that way. When I did the Artpace International Artist-in-Residence program I wasn’t thinking about the pedestals because there was a lot more work in that exhibit. The Window Works show will only have six objects, whereas my residency included more than 13 objects, plus video, illustrations, and the car shows I attended. I’m also taking into consideration the fact that it is in the window, and people will either drive by or stop to look at it—it seems like having a lot of refracted light is a good way to catch their attention.

This exhibition is part of Artpace’s 20th anniversary celebration; how did your residency impact you?
What changed most for me was how I perceived myself. I made something and completed it in a small amount of time and was treated with a different level of professionalism that changed what I expected for myself and of myself. A lot of that has to do with Artpace—getting a budget, being here to focus on making new work, and having the chance to fulfill my potential. For me it was a huge opportunity that has led to other big opportunities.

Are any of the pieces from the original exhibition making reappearances?
The flame-throwing stove is back, but all of the other pieces are new. I want the space to evolve over the course of the exhibition, so some things will be switched out periodically. This will give audiences a chance to return for something new as well as give me the opportunity to make new work.


Katie Pell

San Antonio, Texas, USA

Katie Pell was born in Wilmington, Delaware in 1965 and lived and worked as an artist and art professor in San Antonio, Texas. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island in 1987 and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 2010. Pell passed away in December 2019 surrounded by the art community of San Antonio.

She worked with glass, ceramic, video and recycled materials of all sorts; however, her true love was drawing. “I am inspired by the boardwalk, and congregating teenagers in general; operatic and dramatic music, like early Bruce Springsteen, and Polyphonic Spree, David Bowie… I want to know where genuine living and role-playing intersect. Some of us build our own mythology out of our environment, our desires and our own furious defiance at our genetic mediocrity. I hope my work can ignite or describe the excitement of our pointless and forgettable lives, and reaffirm the value of our gorgeous desperation.” -Katie Pell

See More