When Kathie moved back to her hometown of Newport 13 years ago, her brother Dave knew he had found the perfect spot for his artistic sister to thrive. “It wasn’t pristine,” she remembers her first impression of the former auto parts warehouse turned apartment, “But, oh, how I loved the space, the sense of space, the height of the ceiling, knowing I would have to live and work here.” With a recording studio next door and various other artists living and working in the converted industrial building, Kathie felt an immediate sense of camaraderie with her creative neighbors. “Throughout the years, there has been a collection of extremely beautiful and talented people who have lived in this building,” she says with a sense of appreciation.
Having always lived in historic homes and apartments where changes were off-limits, Kathie was delighted to finally settle into a place without creative restrictions. This new home was full of possibilities. The self-taught artist approached her new space the same way she delves into her work: like a kid at play.
Kathie’s live/work space changes seasonally to coincide with the inspiration for each of her new Teahan K woven metal jewelry collections. Art and textiles rotate, furniture is rearranged, wall colors change; nothing is off-limits. When Kathie is tired of a certain configuration, “it comes down as fast as the speed of light,” she says with a smile. “There’s no work in progress. If it takes me until 2:00 in the morning, I’m doing it. If it’s not speaking to me and making me still feel free to think, it’s gotta go.” Among this constant flux, Kathie’s goal for her live/work space remains the same: “This place has to stimulate me, but not overstimulate me.”
Kathie’s extensive textile collection, including quilts handmade by her mother, fill her home with patterns, colors and textures that inform her work. “They speak to me in a language that I understand. I am primarily a fiber artist who applies textile techniques to metal,” she explains, “I often study the pieces, the stitchwork, the choices that artist made in terms of color and shape."
In addition to fabrics, Kathie’s home is filled with an abundance of containers. Wood, metal, straw and glass; they are everywhere. They hold food, toiletries, tools and beads. Everything that enters her home in conventional packaging is transferred to a container. They help her compensate for the lack of cabinets, drawers and closets that are usually found in a traditional living space. Seeking them out at thrift stores, yard sales and catalogs has become a bit of a hobby over time.
Over a decade later, Kathie’s ever-evolving space continues to be a source of excitement. For this lively artist, there is little differentiation between home and work, the two are inextricably linked. “My space is a living work of art. It is a reflection of me, parts of me that I can’t articulate in words.”
You can see the full tour and read more about Kathie's style on Apartment Therapy.
Photos and text by Jacqueline Marque