Other Investigations: Katie Hargrave

Katie Hargrave, originally from Chicago, lives and works in Minneapolis and was previously featured on Make Space. She gives us insight into her practice as well as discusses her experience at ACRE Residency . If you are in Chicago this weekend, check out MAKING IS THE MIRROR with new work by Jacob C. Hammes, Katie Hargrave, Laura Hart Newlon AND Erin Sweeny. Curated by Anthony Stepter, the exhibition is open from November 10-24, 2012 at Roxaboxen Exhibitions (Chicago, IL).

On collecting:

My work begins often begins with a story, a spark. I spend time with books, in archives, talking to strangers, going to community meetings, and reading the built environment like a text. As an artist, I am interested in how historical narratives are at work in our current realities. How does the history of a place bleed into the present? Or what halts that process? Can the way a story is told (or retold) change how we choose to treat others? As I read and explore, stories jump out and feel connected to each other. I like to think that each of my projects works to clear away a little it more of the fog that surrounds our shared histories and politically constructed narratives.


On process and materials:

Because I am interested in putting stories into context with one another, I work on many things at once. Often I’ll have upwards of ten projects in the active research phase. It takes a long time for a project to come to completion, usually around two or three years for a major work. I try to avoid determining forms while researching, instead letting the content dictate if I make an installation, video, performance, or something different. Lately, though, I’ve been interested in giving myself formal exercises that end in discrete objects. I’ve been exploring flags, as a container and a fetish object for national identity and patriotism, and as such I have been drawn to fibers. Fiber works, and flags in particular are interesting for me because they sit in a space between a functional and a decorative object. I am interested in their histories, but also how I might address conceptual concerns through the form itself. 

On research, space, and site:

Before getting my MFA, I studied museum studies and anthropology, so the methodology of the participant observer has deeply penetrated my own research methodology. I am interested in site-specific and site-generated artwork and research, and I find myself playing the roll of tourist and pseudo-anthropologist often in my work. As such, geographic location is quite important. As I become rooted in a place, my senses evolve, and my explorations become more nuanced and richer. Right now, I am based in Minneapolis, and the Mississippi river and the idea of twin-ness are really interesting to me, but I don’t know where that will head to yet. More practically, my studio is on the second floor of my little carriage house in South Minneapolis. I really love being able to just go upstairs and work; it is so easy to get into a groove and work for hours. I have lots of space to spread out and work on multiple projects at once.



ACRE was my first artist residency, and I could not recommend it more highly. I arrived shortly after completing my MFA and moving to a new city, so the residency experience afforded a much needed time and space to reflect upon my practice and explore new ways of working. I learned some new skills in the woodshop, completed a project for an upcoming show, and played around with new materials. Most importantly, I met inspiring artist volunteers that make ACRE run (thank you!) and other residents. The twelve days at ACRE gave me enough fuel to keep me running for a long time to come. ACRE is magical. Truly.

Four of us ACRE residents are planning a long-term social-practice/video project for next summer. We’re printmakers, organizers, and digital media artists. As such a diverse group, we are pushing each other’s practices in new ways. I’m being forced into thinking about tightening my formal language and backing up my conceptual decisions with more rigor.

As I am writing this, I am in DC for my second residency, at Provisions Library affiliated with George Mason University. Comparing the two residencies would be impossible. There are four residents, and we’re working on public research projects in the middle of an election cycle in the nation’s capital. Learning about a major city while developing new projects is challenging and invigorating, and working so closely with a small group of people is quite motivating. I’m investigating tourism, boundaries, and power structures.