Sunday, July 5, 2015

Photographer Series #18: kitshotkatemoss

Kit Clark is certainly an outlier when it comes to the east and west coast centered art worlds and even the artists we have highlighted here at ishotkatemoss. 

Self described as an "old black dog", Kit was born in Appalachia in 1980. He indicated that his bio simply could state that he “should be dead”.

My early life and formative years were full of violence, drug abuse, legal problems, homelessness, mild mental arrested development, and a lot of time wandering around in the woods.” Kit attended a state university in NY for two years in his mid twenties where he studied liberal arts before being kicked out due to a lack of attendance. “I had a raging heroin habit and family issues.

Kit has been making art since he was a child and simply desired to create “something sacred out of trash”. He draws, dabs and strokes at found source images, turning the normal or mundane into a surreal, special and enchanted presence.

iskm: How would you describe your work? 
Kit Clark (KC): My work is a bit like future primitive graffiti tattoo magick. My creations are illuminated illustrations on templates. Maybe most concisely described as ‘folk art’. My steady medium for the last handful of years has been collage. More recently I have also been using ‘sigils’, a magical glyph that represents intent. I have always worked with themes of nature, esoteric, occult, life cycles. 

iskm: Why do you choose to draw on the images the way that you do?  
KC: Most of the symbols I'm creating are automatic writing, doing my best to fit the subject. The symbols that appear are just what come out of me. I've seen many different glyphs; they've existed since humans created the first image.
Kit Clark's portrait of John Burroughs: "Joy in the universe, and keen curiosity about it all - that has been my religion"
I use paint pens and ink to illustrate an already existing photo. It's a process constantly in transition. I've seen a lot of this type of work … people drawing on photos is illumination like the monks drawing on manuscripts, which is i think fitting because these folks I see doing this all seem to have a spiritual perspective.
iskm: How do you select the source images?
KC: I work from found materials. I have a pretty daily routine where I get to my local library, where there is a magazine exchange, I look for fashion magazines, as often they have higher quality full page black/darker pages for their ads, most expensive magazines do. I use the black to tear up and re-affix as backgrounds on my collages, and sometimes I will find images that I draw on. I do my best not to buy my source material but to work from what has been discarded. Sort of a thing from my mountain culture is to use what you have.
iskm: Why kate? Why did you choose the specific image of her that you did?
KC: I chose kate moss, because it chose me. I tend not to work with fashion themes; though, I am very interested in form and function, and with the idea of a person a huge portion of the world thinks fits some ideal of beauty. In a way she's a modern Goddess … I illuminated her.
iskm: Do the specific symbols have certain meaning? Are they Appalachian symbols? 
KC: These are not Appalachian symbols in particular. I feel that I am drawing mostly from runic forms. Lines and dots. Sometimes I think they look futuristic, yet sometimes I think they look ancient.
The symbol on the forehead of kate moss is called the leviathan cross. It is the alchemical symbol for sulfur/brimstone. I don’t use such a symbol on all of my works, I tend to use lunar symbols more. This crux though has been sort of appropriated by Anton LaVey, from the Church of Satan; some of his followers, and some of the folks who are around occult use it as the satanic cross. In that way I'm inferring that there is something nefarious to the point of kate moss. Not her as a soul, but her purpose to us as a culture, this ideal Caucasian woman. It's a theme that's said a lot of ways, however if I say too much more I feel like there's little room for viewer interpretation. If someone isn’t aware that it’s alchemical, or that its adopted by some Satanists, or that it has a little infinity loop in it, maybe it will be seen as just pretty. 

iskm: What does being Appalachian mean to your work?
KC: I am constantly more concerned with nature than with cities. Financial issues abound in Appalachia. Up and down the mountains people are poor with money but rich with spirit. There's a lot of folklore, music, crafts, storytelling plus community and family. In the mountains the veil between the mystical world and this reality gets thinner. Some people call it superstitious, but we call it aware. Not everyone is though. A love of the woods seems to be very big part of my attachment to this. Nature is the greatest artist. My family came here in 1645 from Scotland. I'm 13th generation. My family mixed in with Algonquin later on.

iskm: Why do you have a black dog as your totem? 
KC: My spirit animal is the black dog. In European legend he's a harbinger of dark times. In Native American medicine the black dog is a guide to the lost, through darkness, and onto more lit paths. One doesn't pick their totem, it's revealed to them through vision quests, dreams, and words from other people in the medicine. Why I have it as my totem I cannot rightly tell you because I didn't choose it. Why I have a totem though is because I come from that bloodline, and I'd like to go back to that. I'm looking forward to a future primitive world.

iskm: Which photographers/artists would you most want to most see involved in ishotkatemoss?
KC: Keith Haring and Michelangelo. I think Haring because of his illustration style, I'm sure he'd do what I'm attempting to do, but much better. And I'd like to see what Michelangelo would make of kate because he always hides something magical in his work, a reference to something. I'm curious what features he'd accent more, whereas I feel like I chose the cheek, I think he would say that the soul is in the eyes.

Thanks so much Kit. I highly encourage people to look at more of Kit’s work, which can be seen at: Truly beautiful, powerful, poignant and illuminating.

Observe. Slow Down. Shoot. Submit.

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