Artist Katherine Boxall on virtual connections, mental blocks and 6 a.m. puppy cuddles in COVID-19 crisis
Katherine Boxall is the most recent artist to have an installation hanging at the Mint Museum Uptown as part of Constellation CLT. She’s also the first of many artists that we are asking about how the coronavirus — and shift in the world — is affecting their day-to-day lives, as well as the art they create.
Studio location: West Charlotte
Describe the artwork you create and medium your use.
I paint and draw using graphite, pastel, acrylic, oil, and spray paint. Although mostly abstract, I do work representationally as well.
What artists inspire you and your work?
I am inspired by lots of artists, dead and alive. They are not restricted to the visual landscape, writers and musicians are huge sources for me too. Right now I am thinking a lot about my MFA mentors from the Bay Area such as Alicia McCarthy, Brett Reichman, Maria Elena Gonzalez, Jeremy Morgan, Danielle Lawrence, Terry Powers, Felicita Norris … just to name a few.
What is your favorite piece or artwork that you created and why?
I don’t have a favorite piece(s). Everything that I make comes out of a certain time and context. Each work has it’s own stories and reasons, so it isn’t obvious to me how I would judge them on the same playing field.
How does your environment influence your art?
Environment influences your mind, body, and being all the time. I’ve heard people say you’re only as smart as the five people you surround yourself with. I don’t know if that’s true, but surrounding myself with other creative and inspiring people has helped me reach my highest potential in the past. It’s obviously very challenging to do that right now, so I am trying to connect virtually as much as I can with the people I love and keep my environment as uplifting as I can. Being a painter is about being aware of your ways of seeing, then learning to adapt and use them. Even though my environment is physically the same (in my studio) the psychological environment is different. So I’m working to find a way to level my emotions towards to the crisis and transform them into a positive output.
Tell us about your new morning routine, including when you start your day and how you spend the early hours.
I usually start my day with coffee and petting my golden retriever puppy Sophie. The pandemic hasn’t dawned on her so she continues to wake me up at the usual time (6am). Now that I don’t leave the house to exercise, we’ve been going on longer walks instead and calling family to check-in.
Are you finding new inspiration for your art during this shift of perspective in the world?
I feel grateful that my work is already self-directed and motivated, but the toll of this crisis is making it challenging to feel ‘inspired’. Right now, I am working to break down those mental blocks and use the opportunity to push myself and my work.
Tell us about your afternoon. Are you working from home or going to your studio?
Both. I am working from home for Jerald Melberg Gallery as much as I can and then spending the rest of my time in the studio. I am the only tenant in the warehouse, so my studio is literally the ultimate place to work while social distancing. I’ve also set up a space at home for small drawings and watercolors for a more low key/meditative creative vibe. I had a really busy winter with exhibitions and projects, so at the moment I am enjoying slowing own a bit.
How are you winding down your day? Have any recommendations for stress relievers to settle after another day done?
Lots of cuddling with the dog and spending time with my partner at home. I’ve added some exercise later in the day to fuel myself with endorphins and a few extra skincare steps because I no longer have any excuses. I guess my #1 recommendation (if you can) would be to eat chocolate while wearing a bathrobe on the couch watching your favorite show. In my experience, few things in life feel as luxurious. I’d also treat yourself to reading fiction and steeping some tea, anything to get a good night’s sleep.
What are you cooking? What’s your comfort food of choice?
I’m always cooking and we do it all. Breakfast has expanded beyond the smoothie to eggs, banana breads, muffins, etc. For lunch we have the leftovers from the previous night’s dinner which is usually salmon, cod, steak, chicken, homemade pizza, it just goes on. Cooking has always been a creative outlet for me so if anything the pandemic has just ramped that up. Watching my Instagram story will usually leave you hungry.
What are you currently reading?
The New York Times (it’s not for the weak)
What is your favorite music choice?
All kinds of things as the day goes, but Medasin, Future, and Lane 8 seem to be dominating my current playlists.
What is your favorite podcast(s)?
The Daily, The Journal, How I Made This
What positive perspective changes in society would you like to see come from the pandemic?
I know for myself that being a busy body can sometimes act as a distraction from the things I really need to work on or slow down to appreciate. Socially, I hope this will put in perspective our real values and help us prioritize them in more human way. Systematically, I am hopeful to see protection for those who need it most. Only a fraction of us have the luxury to work from home or take time off (and even fewer for long periods), so I hope that our government and community really pulls together to support one another.