Meet the Team: Katie Harwood
Over the next few months as we get ready to celebrate our TENTH Anniversary, we are are creating a new feature, Meet the Team, to highlight, interview, and share the work of our dedicated Lenscratch staff. We start today by introducing Katie Harwood, the new Lenscratch Marketing Director, who launches our newsletter later today. I first met Katie at the Filter Photo Festival several years ago and we reconnected at the Denver Portfolio Reviews this past Spring. Katie not only brings enthusiasm and professionalism to her new position, but also a strong vision and a desire to give back to her community. An interview with Katie follows, as does a sharing of her project, Everything Is Fine Here.
Katie Harwood (b. 1981) is an artist and photographer based in Colorado. She earned an MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and a BA from Columbia College Chicago. Most recently, Harwood received the Innovations in Imaging award from the Society for Photographic Education for her series Everything Is Fine Here. She is the Founder & Navigator at Big Bad Bettie Press, a small publishing company dedicated to the image and the object. Her work has been exhibited widely in the US, exists in private and museum collections, and has been published in online journals such as Don’t Take Pictures and F-Stop. Working in an expanded documentary style, Harwood’s work explores ideas of kin, environment, and suburbia and the oddities that happen in these spaces.
We are so excited to have you join our staff! Tell us about your growing up…
I grew up in the midwest in a suburb of Chicago called Winnetka. My family lived in a gray house with a white picket fence and fuchsia door. My sister and I helped my mom paint the front door one day and I like to imagine it was her way of letting everyone know we were different somehow. We spent lots of time at home making up games, doing art projects, and putting on plays for our selves and our friends. We were a road trip family and I have many memories of my Dad wrestling luggage into our wood paneled station wagon as my sister and I smoked candy cigarette’s and played Nintendo. Our house was also full of tons of stuff – my mom is a collector of many things. Growing up this way has certainly influenced my art practice today.
What brought you to photography?
What do you do at Lenscratch?
I’m the Director of Marketing and brand new to the team! My first project is letting our community know about all of the amazing resources Lenscratch has to offer through a brand new newsletter. I’m also helping to develop a plan to celebrate the incredible 10 years of Lenscratch!
Tell us about your photographic practice and any new projects you are working on.
I’ve always had a documentary sensibility and a desire to tell stories. Family and home are major points of inspiration in my practice. And I like to use documentary and the personal as a jumping off point for my projects. Mainly, I use a camera to create my work but I also like to work with books, collage, sculpture, and installation. When I start a new project, it typically takes form in digital pixels or layers of emulsion. And if the idea is taking off, I like to play with other forms to expand on the idea and see where else it can go. For the past 4 years, I’ve been working on a project called Everything Is Fine Here and I’m nearing the end (she says optimistically). In 2015, right out of graduate school, I started an artist run publishing company dedicated to the image and the object called Big Bad Bettie Press. I consider this a big part of my practice as well and it feeds my desire to work with my friends and collaborate with other artists. I think I still have “post traumatic grad school disorder”, so I am excited to simply continue making work and seeing where it takes me.
What excites you about the Lenscratch community?
It’s hard to put my finger on this but I think it’s the democratic nature of the community and its pure joy for the practice of image making. I first discovered Lenscratch about 6 years ago when I was applying for grad school. It was an absolute wonder to me. I had been out of the fine art world for so long and had no idea where to go to see what was going in the contemporary photography world. I devoured the site and learned so much.
What has been your favorite post?
There are so many! I’ll tell you the first post I remember reading…It was Critical Mass : Bootsy Holler way back in 2011. It was the first time I had seen this type of work or heard a photographer speak about photography in this way. It really opened up a lot of possibilities for me. I love the States Project posts too. I think this is an awesome idea.
What is something unexpected that we don’t know about you?
I love fishing and golfing. Most people are really surprised when they learn this about me.
And finally, describe your perfect day
Imagining that time and distance are not a factor…Early morning coffee from Old Bisbee Roasters with waffles and fresh fruit over looking my favorite lake in Wisconsin. Mid-morning epic bungy jump off the Nevis in Queenstown, NZ. Followed by lunch and a brew tour at New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, CO. Then grab my camera and take the backroads to Steamboat Springs, CO. Salmon and wine along the river for dinner. And end with a well deserved soak in beautiful Strawberry Park Hot Springs.
Katie has a long term project, Everything Is Fine Here, that uses the transience of objects as a metaphor for the disintegration of a family.
Everything Is Fine Here
Everything Is Fine Here is an ongoing series that investigates my relationship with my hometown, Winnetka, IL. In this chapter, I use a spring cleaning event as a metaphor for the breakup of my family. During this one time annual event, residents are encouraged to bring unwanted household items to the curb for removal. Ordinary items lay discarded and anonymous in front of manicured lawns and well-kept homes. I photograph the scenes as they are found. Items are only manipulated by their former owners or treasure seekers and metal pickers. Some items find new homes but most are hauled to the landfill at the end of the week long event.
During my formative years, my parents divorced and my experience of that upturned and chaotic time is present as I make this work. Ideas of private and public, inside and outside, wanted and unwanted swirl around this work. Walking the streets during this ritual purging for the past 5 years, I am fascinated by the perceived breakdown in the rules of decorum. It is like a collective and approved of airing of dirty laundry that only happens once a year. Items that were full of memories and bare evidence of their users transform into torn, misshapen piles for anyone to see.
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