During Kate Newby’s show I can’t nail the days down, curated by Juliane Bischoff at Kunsthalle Wien, Alexandra-Maria Toth met the artist.
Kate and I first meet last summer in her studio in Brooklyn, New York. I still remember very well how organized she kept her studio space. Her tiny ceramic pieces and some of her medium-sized glass sculptures were arranged in several plastic boxes, according to size, shape and color. Kate opened the boxes carefully and laid her work on the floor so I could have a better look at it. I immediately fell in love with some red ceramic pieces, that looked like lady bugs. We chose a few ceramic sculptures, which I brought to Vienna for a show she had at the Viennese artist-run space SORT.
A year later, I’m walking towards Kunsthalle Wien at Karlsplatz to see Kate for a talk about her exhibition I can’t nail the days down. As I entered the elongated glass pavilion I realized that I stood on bricks, which were installed by Kate for the show. »It almost took forever,« she said, while giving me a welcome hug and added, »You can walk around and please have a closer look at the bricks.« I noticed the different elements, like coins or pieces of clay and glass, which were incorporated into the bricks.
On the surface her handmade objects were spread in organized patterns. »I made every piece in Vienna and turned my Airbnb apartment into a little studio,« she said. Curator Juliane Bischoff made sure Kate would get all her needed material in Vienna or at least nearby. »I also brought something from New York but I won’t use it,« said Kate and I spotted a lady bug on the floor. It was clear that Kate Newby must have spent a lot of time in Vienna to get all this work done. I looked to the right and discovered the hanging glass objects, which Kate produced together with the artist Peter Kuchler. I saw the traffic, the Wiener Secession and the Rosa-Mayreder-Park reflected in the glass objects and everything from outside suddenly seemed very close. I started to look through the glass wall and found Kate’s outdoor sculpture. The oblong string of ceramic tiles is supposed to engage with the unpleasant Austrian weather conditions. A month after my first visit of Kate’s Show, I came back to the park to see how the outdoor work has evolved. Leaves had taken root and two months later I could observe cracks in the tiles.
Kate Newby’s sensitive way to engage with her environment impressed me a lot. Her work is overall very poetical and her observations are cleverly integrated. Watching Kate install her show made me realize that she leaves nothing to chance, even though we are invited to interact with her work and are challenged to discover it on our own.