It was love at first sight. Point Blank, the title of Kat Hutter’s recent series of paintings, shot straight to my heart. Yeah, I know it’s a weak pun, but it’s true – the colors, the shapes, the utter layered beauty of it all was too much for me to handle. After catching that first glimpse from a Drake and Lulu’s event flyer, I promptly called up the Incline Village artist to set this interview in motion. A month later, I give you Kat Hutter:

The artist arrived in Tahoe last summer, lured by a teaching position at Sierra Nevada College. A year later, she’s the school’s Tahoe Gallery coordinator, and is looking forward to teaching mixed media painting and fundamentals in visual design this semester. Her artistic career began at the University of Dayton, Ohio, where she focused on abstraction and learned to ‘push paint around.’ She says, ‘I love the process; that’s really why I paint.’ Yet it wasn’t until graduate work at Clemson that Hutter’s signature style today developed. A lot of thinking in the studio drew her eye to the objects around her: tape, paint cans and other artist supplies. She began experimenting with symbols and repetition through stenciling. ‘For me, that’s where things started clicking,’ Hutter says. ‘I was looking for this big idea about why I paint, but instead found myself drawn to banal, everyday items.’

From here, Hutter delved into the process with an OCD-like fury. She’s kept every stencil she’s ever drawn, and individually traces each one to the canvas (time-saving, shmime-saving). She continues to work with oil for her love of the medium, though acrylic paints would afford less drying time between layers.

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Hutter made a move to Portland, where high gas prices and a horrendous commute greeted her. This climate took her symbols to a socio-political level. Hummers, pistols and Mac computer power buttons – all false senses of power, she says – began showing up in her work, flat and devoid of detail. ‘By layering these false senses of power, I am disguising them even more,’ she says, noting also her vibrant color palette that furthers that thought. In her most recent work, Sitting Ducks (pictured), the pistols are barely visible for the pattern.

But Hutter isn’t painting to preach. ‘I just want people to look at objects in a different way,’ she says. ‘And I’m just like everyone else: Images affect me. Children learn with objects; it’s our first form of real communication.’

So what about Tahoe? Has the lake’s brilliant natural beauty inspired Hutter to go classic, Tahoe landscape on us? Well, yes, but not exactly; the artist is working on a Tahoe landscape, with guns making up the scenery, of course.

For more information, contact the artist at 864-506-0203 or kathutter.com.

Email the author at lkorb@moonshineink.com. Keep up with Lis, her coverage of the arts and her own stencil obsession at liskorb.com.

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