Kitty Alward (1984)

Fragmented, oil and collage on canvas, 17" x 14", 2002
Faithful Companions, oil on wood and canvas, 10" x 8.5", 2003
Surrounded, oil on wood, 17" x 13" x 1", 2005
Black Elipse, oil on wood, 8.5" x 5.5", 2006
Double Trouble, oil on wood, 13.5" x 9", 2006
River Rocks, oil and collage on canvas, 60" x 62", 2006

My recent work resembles rock-like images. I am interested in how these rock shapes relate with each other and the possibilities of relationships that these shapes evoke. The subtle way edges meet other edges and the underpainting that exists is integral to the work. I have continued to construct shaped paintings since my work as a graduate student. I do sometimes start out with a shape before the actual painting begins. But many times the shapes are cut up and reconstructed during the course of the work. I often recycle parts from previous paintings for use in current pieces.

Honesty is very important to me in the work. If I have an idea, I physically put it down on the painting instead of relying on a mental image. Therefore, I am true or honest to the actual search. I have given the idea a chance and if it doesn't work, it can be changed. Each piece is reminiscent of the previous ones and the changes occur slowly.

The first time I came to New York was for my interview to Columbia. I entered the campus from Amsterdam Avenue. It was a beautiful spring day and there were students sitting all over the Low Library steps. I remember being so intimidated by the whole thing. After I had my interview with Louise Kaish she asked me if I would like to see the studios. I agreed to do this and she proceeded to draw me a map. I didn't realize that the studios were not a part of the main campus. As I walked North to 125th street I became more nervous with each step as the neighborhood seemed to deteriorate. So that was my first impression of New York, it was a little overwhelmingbut exciting.

I really ended up at Columbia by default. In my undergrad years at Carnegie Mellon, I studied with a professor that had received his MFA from Yale and was going to be teaching there the fall after I graduated. I desperately wanted to go to graduate school at Yale. It was one of the top places to be and the fact that my professor would be teaching there made it more desirable as I wanted to continue to study with him. My professor advised me to give it a try but added that it was difficult to get in, and it would be a "long shot." I applied my senior year and made the first cut to go for an interview. I also had applied to a couple of other places as well. I got rejected in the final cut and did not get into any of the other schools that I had applied to. I was devastated and without any other plans I took a year off and moved back home. I continued to paint and applied to Yale again the following year. I also applied to a few more schools, Columbia being one of them. The second time around I did not even make the first cut to Yale. I got rejected from all the other schools. Columbia was the last school that I heard from with a letter of acceptance. I remember my father coming home for lunch and me telling him that I received my letter in the mail. He said, "Oh Kit, I am sorry." I replied, "Why are you sorry? I got in." Well, then, he really was sorry because he had to get me there. My dad said the best way he liked to see New York was in his rear view mirror.

Columbia turned out to be a great experience. I lived at International House and had a great studio space all to myself. A lot of other schools at the time did not provide individual studio space the way Columbia did. I studied with Leon Goldin, Louise Kaish, Jane Wilson, Louise Fishman, Paul Brown, and Reeva Pottoff. I still to this day think it is so interesting that Leon Goldin and I had a mutual professor. Leon had this professor the very first year that he taught in Chicago and I had the same professor the last year that he taught in Pittsburgh. I also had Howard Davis for renaissance painting; I thought he was great. For years I had no grade from him on my transcripts. I was told that it was not unusual for him to just not turn his grades in. Only a few years ago I finally had a grade recorded for his class.

I was also lucky enough to attend Skowhegan the summer between my two years at Columbia. I went to Skowhegan along with Vivienne Koorland who was my classmate at Columbia. I had George McNeil as an advisor at Skowhegan. He came to Columbia the following school year as a visiting artist. I also got to see Bill Jenson twice because he was a visiting artist at both places too.

Columbia was a great place to be. We had access to so many visiting artists, much more than many other schools because of the location. We had Ron Bladen, Sean Scully, Julian Schnabel, just to name a few. We had Lee Krasner come and speak as well as my hero Al Held. So it was all very exciting. I look back on it all and think, "Wow was I fortunate to have had all those experiences."