Southern Artist Spotlight Series: Kate Roebuck of The Bowerbird Collective
Today, enjoy getting to know Kate Roebuck and her lovely textiles, paintings and effervesent creativity.
What is your training?
The first “piece” i ever made— at the ripe young age of six was a ode to my daddy, entitled, “Beer Bottle Opener,” (crayon on printer paper). I created this work on the bleachers of my older brothers hockey games, under the tutelage of Gail, a hockey mom and amazing woman. This is where my training began, but it fully realized itself at the University of Georgia in Athens, GA.
I started off as a fashion major— and switched to pursue fine art, specifically with a BFA in textile design. I furthered my love of textiles and pattern through working for a textile design company, Hable Construction, for 5 years. Recently, my husband and I moved to Lookout Mountain, Georgia— and I left my job to pursue a career in fine art and to root myself more fully in my community.
What inspires you and your designs?
I think inspiration is an ever evolving thing— it both informs what you create and is informed by what you create. My work right now seems to be full of movement, layers, and texture— which relates to scandinavian design, my favorite artist Helen Frankenthaler, and textile patterns. As a theme, I am really inspired by water— I love the way it moves, it’s depth, and range of color. I love to return to nature for inspiration— and though I can never re-create the beauty of nature and creation, in the end— that is my biggest source of inspiration and what I always strive for in my work.
What is your favorite piece?
It’s always so hard to chose a favorite— you spend so much time on each piece! Maybe this is cheating… but I am going to say this is a piece of “found art” i created…
These two framed pieces of “found art” are scraps of paper left over after a game of pictionary from a family beach trip. My nana, Stella,— got the word “nipple” and “test-tube baby” in the same game! I thought… whats funnier than a 90 year olds depiction of these? I had to save them and frame them— because I will never forget how hard we all laughed over those two drawings. I can’t seems to find the photo i thought i had anywhere!!!!! Unfortunately those pieces are now packed in a pod, because we are living with family while building a house.
But, even better…Here is Nana.
How has the your area influenced your work?
I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA— with great parents, playing lots of sports, and making lots of artwork. from this I would say I was influenced by just being a kid. I would make these long and epic hopscotch boards that wound around the driveway and up the street. I was committed to having the most creative course for the neighborhood kids (and my dad) to jump through.
I moved to Athens, GA for my college education— I continued playing sports and really because to further my desire to create and learn. I was influenced here by amazing professors, a city that is a hum of creativity, and the constant excitement of being in art school.
After college, my husband and I moved to Oxford, MS. This is where I was accepted in my first juried show, I had my first solo art show, and sold my first piece of art. Oxford, though small— has an amazing creative culture that is incredibly supportive.
Finally— I moved to Lookout Mountain, GA, which overlooks Chattanooga, TN. I have a studio in the city that I go to everyday, with artist neighbors, and a new community of artfully minded folk. I love the pace of southern life- with seasons of busy and slow, both of these influence my work.
What is your favorite restaurant in (your city)?
When i sell a piece of artwork— I try to take my husband out for dinner somewhere “fancy!” We constantly compare restaurants here in Chattanooga to our FAVORITE OF ALL TIME RESTAURANT in Oxford, MS: Snack Bar— which is owned and run by chef John Currence. There is nothing better than the duck croque madame, my mouth is watering just thinking about it.
Otherwise, we usually stick with tacos or burgers. Our favorite burger joint here in Chattanooga is Tremont Tavern…it doesn’t hurt that they have great beer on tap! Several of their burgers are named after their customers— I hope one day to have that honor bestowed upon me (dreaming big here!)
What is your favorite cocktail?
HANDS DOWN, my favorite drink is a Bloody Mary!
How do you balance personal life and work?
Balance is sanity! I learned a lot about what works best for my through working full time out of my house for a textile design company for several years. First, I would say you need to realize when your most productive time of day is— knowing that I am great in the morning and have a lull around 2-4pm, I start with the most challenging activities first. For me, this means painting—weaving—anything that requires creativity and thought. Secondly, I set hours for myself just like any boss would for their employee. I know that I am good at maintaining a schedule, so I try to work from 8a-6ish monday-friday. Evenings and weekends belong to my family and I try to minimize email, instagram, and phone calls during that time, taking holidays when my husband has them off! Thirdly, I have a studio space out of my home. This has been the best treat I have ever given myself, because at the end of the day, I wrap-up by closing my door, and walking away!
Any trip is a dream trip— at the top of my bucket list is Japan. I would love to see the rich culture, sense of peace, and tradition that Japan has to offer.
A trip home to Pittsburgh to see my mom, dad, and nana is another dream trip— because I hardly get to see them living so far away. I love going home, feeling like a kid again, dad grills out, and mom and I have EPIC shopping days…nothing is better than that trip!
I would LOVE to make a huge pattern painting for the designer of the fashion line Marni, Consuelo Castiglioni. She is the greatest inspiration to me, her use of pattern and form is genius.
Recently I sold a piece to Jane Scott Hodges and that made my jaw drop! I admire her aesthetic and it was a true compliment.
Your favorite host / hostess gift to give?
My favorite host/hostess gift to give would have to be something found in nature. Recently, I went to a friends house for tea— and brought her a dried clipping of these intense thorns. I thought, this is the strangest gift to give someone! Giving something found in nature means you had to get outside and work for it, its an act of love!
Who is your style icon?
I suppose I have a few other than Consuelo…
Iris Apfel– Because she does whatever she wants.
Bill Cunningham– Because he chose his own “uniform” and never deviated from it.
Coco Channel– Because she is a risk taker.
My nana Stella- because at 4’4” she loves two piece velvet jogging suits with wedge heels and she rocks them…hard core.
Your favorite up and coming artist?
My studio neighbor, Mia Bergeron. She is a figurative painter, but she works very conceptually— while making the most beautiful paintings i have ever seen. Not only that— but she is about the nicest person you will ever meet, and she laughs at everything I say!
So whats not to love!?
Distinctively different, is the work of Carol John. I recently purchased (I saved my pennies, and it was sooo worth it! ) a piece of her work. Its pop-art with a playful-maturity that I love.
What is your most treasured possession?
Other than my nana’s dictionary drawings, my most treasured possession would be the photo of my nana and pap that sits on my desk. Its a constant reminder of love, commitment, and family. There are many items in my home that have a story that is meaningful to my husband and I, but this tiny little photo means more to me than anything.
What are you reading?
Somehow, I always get wrapped up in these really intense books! Currently I am reading 12 Years a Slave and Game of Thrones. I am leaving for the beach in a few weeks and plan on bringing Leanne Shapton’s book, Swimming Studies. I read it last year at the beach and there is something so beautiful about the poetry in reading a book about swimming and water as you lay on the beach listening to the ocean.
What are you listening to?
ALWAYS AND FORVER: The National… every album….all the time… i never tire of it.
CURRENT ROTATION: The Cults album, Static.
LOOKING FORWARD TO: First Aid Kit’s next album, due out this summer
What are your favorite blogs / publications?
I have to limit my internet time because it REALLY stunts my creative process! Its like a visual overload, my eyeballs glaze over, my head starts spinning out of control with ideas and i can’t grasp any of them! YIKES!
I love walking over to the library to look at their art and design books, its a block from my studio. I love World of Interiors Magazine— to me there is none greater than this, the end!
When i hit my afternoon lull— sometimes i will check out a few blogs, specifically i look at Cloth and Kind, friends and clients who are pretty amazing at what they do!
I love the Sartorialist because fashion was my first love!
And I love The Man Repeller, because her sense of humor gets me through my over-cafiniated, I forgot to eat anything and now i am cramming trail mix, afternoon!
Of course The English Room !
Here are just a touch of the pieces from Kate’s portfolio..and a few from the Shop.
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