Mills alumna Kathryn Spence presented an art lecture in the Danforth lecture hall on Oct. 11.
“It’s important as an artist to hear other artists,” MFA student Trisha Grover said. “It went by really fast, I really liked her work. It’s original.”
Spence, a 1993 MFA graduate, began her talk with her artwork and experimentation from her time at Mills.
“It was fun to do that here because people weren’t insistent on me knowing what I was doing all the time,” she said at the lecture.
Some of her work is made of old stuffed animals, fabric, tread and trash.
“I think that it’s a little haunting, a little sad, and I think that’s why I’m drawn to it,” MFA student and organizer Jennifer Brandon said. “I’m interested in the way she works because it’s very meticulous and very much about organization.”
She discussed her inspiration from her experiences as a waitress, gardening and from living in San Francisco. She started working on a piece about pigeons after watching one of the few living things in the city.
“I have these waves of excitement about what I’m going to be doing and I think about it and what it’s about,” Spence said.
Spence discussed her process and showed slides of her work.
“Art can be very hard to make, so I think artists pay very close attention to their process,” she said. “I was always questioning it and trying to improve on it, so I’ve always thought a lot about it.”
Spence has lectured at Mills and many other places before.
“I had seen a lot of artists talking about their work when I was in school, she said. “I had always imagined what it would be like to try to talk about your work. It was a lot to get used to. I felt sunburned for a whole year.”
The following day, Spence met with six graduate students who signed up to talk with her individually about their own work.
“It offers a fresh set of eyes. The faculty that we have come in and kind of nurture you as a baby artist,” Brandon said. “It gives an opportunity for some real crucial feedback about what might succeed and what might not.”
Spence is the first in a four artist series organized by the second-year graduate students and funded by the Herringer Foundation. The other artists this year are Larry Sulton, Binh Danh and Kata Ozawa.
“We are very excited to have all of them,” Brandon said. “They seem, in turn, very excited to come.”
Brandon and the other organizers were not aware Spence attended Mills when they decided to ask Spence to speak.
“That was a happy surprise. I was interested in the work first and was excited to find out she was from Mills,” Brandon said. “A number of fellow students connect with her work on an emotional level and admire her work.”