Kathryn Andrews

A conversation with Kathryn Andrews about the found imagery and the idea of craftsmanship.
Illustration by Ojima Abalaka

Every city has more than one story to tell and one face to show. Regardless of the artistic background, each place is full of inspiring individuals making its own culture and story. In Plus’s online initiative, ‘City Talks,’ we feature 10 creatives representing the designated city per season, asking contributors to share personal relatedness and building an engaging community that gives a sense of belonging. 

The second season takes place in Los Angeles, and this week, we talk with Kathryn Andrews, a conceptual artist who works in sculpture, painting, large-scale printmaking, and performance. Andrews’ artwork addresses how mass culture exploits the human impulse to make sense of the world categorically with the end result of restricting personal freedoms. Through her exhibitions and projects, Andrews invites more complex ways of seeing–she frequently extracts pop artifacts from their origins (including political ephemera, art historical imagery, and cinema props) and reframes them in new visual contexts that parody contemporary culture while inviting a heightened awareness of perception itself.

What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
Intermittent fast and drink tons of black coffee.


Where is your favorite (go-to) restaurant in LA? Why?

LA’s taco trucks. The fried shrimp tacos at Mariscos Jalisco in Boyle Heights. Taco Zone in Echo Park, late at night. When I’m really starving I head to Viva Taco Azteca in Highland Park for carnitas.


What are your ways of recharging/taking breaks?
Driving. I like to take road trips, catch the scenery, and cram in audiobooks. Recently on a three-day drive to Canada, I listened to Gabor Maté’s Hungry Ghosts and James Hollis’s The Middle Passage.


What kind of song are you into these days?
Music makes me feel emotional. With everything going on in the world right now, I’m taking a pause. Last year I was really into Pauline Anna Strom. I also love her videos.


Can you talk about how you started incorporating readymades and found imagery in your work?
I often use objects and images from the world in my work, but I combine them with new forms that I create. I have always been interested in finding ways to absent my own hand as a form of resistance to how identity has historically been over-associated with value.


What would be an unrealized project or materials/forms you wish to explore?
I’ve recently formed a collaboration with the architect Kulapat Yantrasast called Fukton. Over the years, we talked often about furniture as enthusiasts. Last year we designed a set of chairs. Now we are working on new forms in materials unfamiliar to both of us. It’s a sensually absurd experiment.


You work very closely with a team of fabricators, printmakers, and more during the production phase, and I’m curious to know if there were any unexpected creations and what collaboration means to you.
I do work with a lot of craftsmen and some have brought great creativity to certain problems that interested me. We have been able to develop new techniques and processes together. That said, the relationship is not a true collaboration because I have final veto power. Some years ago, I did ask a couple of artists to make “my work” for me, concept and all. That was fun.


If you could have any artwork in your house, what would it be?
I’d have more furniture… a door by Gaetano Pesce, maybe some soft Otto Zapf shelves. For art, perhaps a giant Jannis Kounellis wall sculpture or something by Melvin Edwards.


How would you describe the art scene in Los Angeles?
It is changing all the time. New people are constantly arriving while others are leaving. There is no center. With the popularization of art collecting since the rise of the global art fair and the digitization of sales, anyone can come here, do anything and get along. Because LA is so isolating with its distances and traffic, the community seems pretty happy to welcome new faces.


What changes would you like to see in the art industry at large?
Less interest in art as an asset. Less focus on trends. Less didacticism. More nonsense.


Listen to all the favorite songs picked by our City Talks contributors HERE.

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