What is it that enables you to work? Childcare, family, a partner, the child’s father or something else? Please explain.
I’ve had major changes to my studio career since my daughter was born. I was with her father until she was 4 years old: he and I had a studio together at our house and she attended daycare three days a week until she was 3 and then fulltime. I was working on my first solo show when I was pregnant with FJ: I was even heating wax out of my lost wax moulds for the show when I was in labour, and then when she slept as a newborn, I cold worked (ground and polished glass). She flew out to Seattle with me when she was 2 months old to attend the show opening. He and I split up when our daughter was 4 and I moved with FJ to the US for 3 years to do my Master of Fine Arts in glass at Southern Illinois University. At SIU I was a fulltime student, fulltime mother, and university instructor. FJ attended daycare from 7:45 to 5:30 for the first year and then attended Elementary School and afterschool care. We very recently moved back to Auckland, NZ and I share parenting with her father, week on week off. I found a flat in a house with a studio and began working from there in August. 2018.
Has your work been influenced by being a mother? How so?
Motherhood very much took over my thoughts around my work in graduate school. I would drop my daughter off at school and I would go to university and attend my classes and teach, then everything after that normal work day included my daughter. She came everywhere with me, to all the art openings, all the visiting artist lectures, I worked mostly at home because I couldn’t work at the university studios at night. I took a class in cinematography studies and began making work around long winded stories she would make up off the top of her head: the lucidity of her thoughts was inspirational. It was during this time that I started a narrative about motherhood in my artwork.
Can you describe a normal workday?
A normal work day for me is dropping my daughter off at school and going to the studio. I work in mostly very dangerous industrial materials and I try to get as much done in the day as possible as 5pm is normally the time I have to leave the dangerous work behind. I pick up my daughter from afterschool care and go home and make dinner, and put FJ to bed around 8 and then usually back to work on research or drawing or wax carving at home.
What needs to happen to make it easier for mothers to work within the arts?
I feel that mothers often do not have the freedoms that other artists, male or female, have to take up opportunities in the art world. We are often tied to home and when travel opportunities arise, we have several airplane tickets and childcare to consider. Residencies often do not welcome children. Colleagues often do not understand parental responsibility. There is a stigma that a mother cannot give her all to her artwork.
What would you have done differently knowing what you know now?
I’m still working that out: I think that the less I worry about what others might judge or misinterpret in my work, the better my work is. As I said before, the lucidity of the child’s mind is inspirational.
Katherine Rutecki is a multidisciplinary artist who specializes in glass sculpture. She also creates work in bronze, cast iron, drawing and painting, and performance art. Rutecki has recently received her Masters of Fine Art in Glass from Southern Illinois University. She holds a BFA in sculpture from New York School of Art and Design at Alfred University. Rutecki has been involved in several international group exhibitions taking place at venues such as the New Orleans Museum of Art and the Ebeltoft Glass Museum in Denmark. Also solo exhibitions in Seattle, Washington and Auckland, New Zealand. Rutecki has work in public collections in New Zealand and internationally, and has also taught widely both through workshops and at university level.
See Katherine’s current exhibition with unperceived existence HERE