You can see more of Katherine's work on her website: www.katherinerush.daportfolio.com
Have you always known that you wanted to be an artist? Are there early experiences of art or teachers that particularly inspired you?
Ever since I was a little girl I was always reaching into the crayon tin picking out the bright colours and using them to scribble and swirl all over any scrap paper, colouring book, or disregarded new/old newspaper that I could find. Needless to say, my family weren’t always too happy to see that I usually left the room in a mess with crayons, and felt-tips all over the floor.
Throughout my teenage years I always had dreams about being a highflying fashion designer, but deep down I never really took my own interest in art seriously, I certainly never viewed it as a potential career path! When it came to picking my GCSE subject choices I was particularly torn between Art and Design, or Home Economics. Obviously I ended up going down the art route as I’m not such a whiz in the kitchen!
During those last four years at school, slowly I began to become more and more passionate about art, in particular painting. Although I still just imagined painting to be a hobby, something that I would hopefully get the time to do at the weekends. However I then had the privilege to take a trip to Rome with my family and visit Michelangelo’s famous Sistine Chapel. Here underneath his vast painted ceiling I was overawed by the vibrant hues of colour, the actions of the figures, and the message that he was trying to tell. After that visit I bought a book from the gift shop (probably a tourist trap) and was fascinated to read about all the hidden meaning that Michelangelo had placed within his work. It wasn’t just a “pretty picture” on a ceiling, instead it was crammed full of symbolism. It was then that I realised how my own art could be much more than a framed picture sitting quietly on a living room wall, but how instead it could be a loud message. Four years, and an art degree later, my passion for painting has amplified! I can’t ever imagine a day where I don’t get to do or think about painting, or get into my studio and get my hands messy!
How does your faith interact with your art? What are some of the themes that you explore?
I love paint. I love the feel of it, I love how it drips, how it can be scraped away, brushed over really thickly, or how on some days you can just mix together extraordinary colours. Alongside this passion for paint is my desire to glorify God within my artwork. I have always been interested in traditional ecclesiastical art. It is fascinating to visit ancient monastic icons and see their depictions of stories from the Bible. However, I longed to be able to interpret my faith in a contemporary manner. As a result, I began to paint on aluminium. Our God is not just confined to the history books; he is the God of today and tomorrow, so I wanted to be able to create a modern up-to-date body of work symbolised by the sleek surface of the aluminium.
In our fast culture, magazines, music videos, television programmes often lead us to compare ourselves to others. Sometimes we don’t feel good enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough. As a normal young woman, frequently feeling these emotions, I explored these feelings through paint. This painting is entitled “Image* and it is based upon Genesis 1:27, “So God created mankind in His own image.” This painting resembles a symmetrical mirror reflection, emphasising how amazing it is to know that we have been carefully created in the image of God. No matter how life may make us feel, God did not make a mistake when he sculpted us together.
The second piece entitled “Worth” again explores the issue of insecurity and low self-esteem. The face of the figure is blurred, perhaps declaring that in life sometimes we get tossed about with our peers, our families, our burdens that can make us feel that our own true identity is slipping away. However her hand is placed above her head, as though indicating she may be holding a crown. As children of God, when we trust in him we have no need to be sucked into the lies of the world, instead to place our true identity and have confidence in the King of kings.
The third piece entitled “The Fall” is based upon Romans 8:38-39, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The figure in the painting appears to have fallen, her feet are even strung up, she is caught, trapped. However her left hand is pointing upwards towards the heavenly realm. For me personally, this piece represents how often we stumble in our faith, we worry and carry emotional backpacks with us. But no matter how deep in the gutter we may feel we are in, if we look upwards to God then none of these problems will be able to separate us from our divine maker.
Art can provoke, inspire, irritate. Can you tell us about a piece of art that has had a big effect on you?
When I first encountered Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” I was immediately transfixed by the bulging colours, boldly jutting out of the painting. The sky is full of moody blues and greens, yet the stars remain untainted by the darkness around them. They shine their bright, evanescent, glowing rays of light upon the town below them. Certainly a reminder for us to “shine like stars” and remain untouched by the “crooked and depraved world” around us. (Philippians 2:15). When I first thought about this piece I was captivated by Van Gogh’s ability to recreate the nighttime sky. God is the ultimate artist; he flung the starry light bulbs into space, that Van Gogh was then able to paint. As an artist it is an amazing privilege to be able to marvel at God’s creation, and see all the colours, ripples and wild life that He fashioned for us.
Are there particular challenges in being a female artist?
As a female artist, who works with the female form, I believe my biggest challenge is to portray the female figure in an honest, open and reliable way. Traditionally in paintings the female form was constantly represented as pretty and petite, an object of desire. However we live in a diverse world. How amazing to see how each one of us has been created differently by God. We are constantly being scrutinised for the way we look, forced to conform to something that we’re not. The girls in my paintings are not super models, they are not air brushed, or size zero. Instead they are real.