Focus on Art
By Rob Mohr
Kathy Seaboyer: A Woman’s Art of Self-Realization
Kathy Seaboyer’s emotional, metaphorical and symbol-filled paintings require that we viewers bring a lot to the table if we hope to unravel the subtle and nuanced meanings hidden within her works. Tolstoy gave us a clue when he wrote, “Art is the transfer of emotions from one person to the other.”
Such a transfer best occurs when both artist and the viewer have mastered the language and vocabulary of the visual arts—form, pattern, color, line, space, emotion, spirit, and metaphor --- have a well-honed ability to see beyond the surface of things, and have a desire to work and live at the cutting edge of human understandings. The element most often ignored or forgotten is the viewer’s responsibility to gain both the understanding and education needed to develop their capacity to appraise the artist’s work with sense and sensibility. When naïve and under educated visual artists join forces with unprepared viewers, together they create an art community that feeds on its own weakness and can have no good impact on the related society. Fortunately, here at Lakeside, artists like Kathy and many local viewers have resisted walking that easy and pointless path.
Honesty--- that which this artist perceives as honest--- charged with emotion and veiled in symbols, is the primary approach for Kathy Seaboyer. Her paintings remind me of the works of several excellent women poets working here at Lakeside in their use of symbolism and emotionally-laden, surreal, overlays. Kathy’s painting “There is a Bell that Rings for Sinners and Saints” evokes the emotions imparted in Frida Kahlo’s (1907–1954) painting Two Fridas (1939),where the one Frida is traditional Spanish and the second fully indigenous to Mexico --- both Fridas are deeply disturbed by surrounding reality. Such works remind us that we need to be aware of the ways that gender influences the formation of ideas about art, artists, and aesthetic values. (photo)
“When I paint I expose myself—what I feel as a woman, as a mother. You can’t do art yourself if you are trying to push someone else. You need to focus on your own work and what is real in your own life.”
Kathy’s words are manifest in several of her works that symbolically address the relationship between a man and woman, where the woman is seen as a dancing bear there to entertain her master, yet at the same time capable of the fierce actions of a wild animal. More nuanced and motherly is her painting of a street child who is contrasted with symbols of a different quality of life lived by children of affluent families. The contrasts are poignant. The boy sleeping on the curb is emotionally convincing and rendered with painterly finesse. (photo)
Unlike male artists who work with symbols and metaphors placed in a surreal environment, women artists like Kathy further feminist interests by creating art that challenges established modes of thought. Kathy’s art, relating to her past experiences, present-day situations, fears, hopes, and desires, furthers the feminine dialogue between the self and the other in ways that are distinct from male artists’ outward projection of their desires. In Kathy’s paintings, the female body becomes a site of psychic power and creative energy. She further encourages feminist attitudes by creating art that challenges established social institutions and gender boundaries while expressing different facets of her personality and situation with brutal honesty seldom achieved by male artists.
(Ed Note: Kathy’s show will run from Oct.19-Nov 7. Reception 5-8pm on 19that Sol Mexicano, Galeria del Arte. Will be showing with Brian Pimlott)