When I first stumbled upon Katie Pumphrey's Instagram account @katiepumphreyart, her work stopped me mid scroll. I quickly realized her paintings ignited that shimmery, butterflies in the tummy feeling for me; a rare occurrence. While I haven't visited any artist studios in Baltimore yet (shocking, I know!), I felt compelled to meet Katie and learn more. After I discovered that Katie's studio is located in Highlandtown, just a quick 5 minute drive from my office, that was the cherry on top. I knew that that was it was too much of a coincidence to pass up!
A couple of emails exchanges and 4 flights of stairs later, myself, my intern Maddie Henshal, and my friend, photographer Maura Asteria, were standing in Katie's studio watching her dip a large paintbrush into a can of blue paint and get to work on her largest canvas to date. I loved soaking in the gorgeous, excitable stokes, vivid colors, and energy of Katie herself; who is so lovely and easy to speak to.
As Katie gave us a tour of her space, a large industrial studio with factory windows, lined with dozens of work-in-progesses, she talked about what motivates her process and showed us some of her works, past & present.
While we could observe a progression from older works to the ones she's creating today (previous works are more figurative and depict recognizable subjects; newer works are more abstract), I realized that all of Katie's paintings stir up a complex mix of emotions. Large swaths of negative space give you a sense of serene calm; but as your eyes move across any canvas, agitated, layered strokes give you a surge of electricity, complexity, falling, rising, zooming.
The movements, while beautiful, are also practical for Katie who paints in acrylic; a medium that tends to dry in a matter of minutes. You have to paint relatively quickly in order to achieve a desired effect. Just by looking at any painting, you can imagine the artist's arm movements and vigorous brushstrokes - a map of flurried motions strewn about a prismatic land.
While I could go on and on about how stunning these works are in person, I'll let you go on a visual tour yourself below! Thank you so much to Katie for allowing us all to meet you and opening up your studio to us! It was one of the most refreshing Saturday mornings I've had in a long time. A big thank you also to Maddie & Maura, for joining me on this adventure and having as much fun as I did.
For those of you interested in seeing Katie's work in person, she has 2 back-to-back solo exhibitions this summer in Washington, DC & Alexandria, VA! Please visit if you get the chance - promise you'll thank me.
6/2 - 7/21 : Five More Minutes (Part I), Solo Exhibition, Susan Calloway Fine Arts, Washington, DC
6/7 - 7/22: Five More Minutes, (Part II) Solo Exhibition, Athenaeum Gallery, Alexandria, VA
All photography by Maura Asteria
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