Performances and Exhibits

Kathy Liao “Lingering Presence” | Prographica / KDR, Seattle

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Prographica / KDR
313 Occidental AVE S
Seattle, WA 98104

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May 4 – July 1, 2017

Kathy Liao
“Lingering Presence”

First Thursday Art Walk, May 4, 6 – 8 pm
Gallery Hours:
Tuesday - Saturday, 10:00 am – 5:30 pm

New paintings by Kathy Liao will be on view in her solo show, “Lingering Presence” at PROGRAPHICA/KDR. The gallery is located at 313 Occidental Avenue South and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 5:30 pm

Kathy Liao wrote the following in a statement about her work for the show:

“In the last few years, my grandmother’s memories have been slipping away from her. I hold her close to my heart, but I can feel the distance between us widening. I am at the periphery of her foggy world.  Despite losing her memory, she is always so happy and surprised when I came into focus. I often wonder how she experiences her world. Does she live in a colorless, blurry haze to have it punctuated by bursts of kaleidoscopic remembrance?

These paintings are a record of an experience, a feeling. In a familiar space, both the presence and the absence of the figure are equally palpable.  A portrait may begin with the person sitting in front of me or a transient smile over FaceTime, and all that might get buried under layers of painted recollection of how the sun felt the day he sat there.  My mixed media work is painted from observations, layered with sharp and hazy memories and recorded snapshot photos. With each painting, I am constantly re-establishing my relationship with the subject matter, being especially conscious of my physical and emotional distance.”

Much of Kathy Liao’s work has narrative attached to her images. Gallery co-director Norman Lundin writes:

“One of the challenges facing narrative painters is finding the balance between the content (i.e. telling the story) and the form (the actual painting). Content, if emotionally loaded, can drown the form resulting in the viewer being aware of only the imagery. The reverse is true as well when form alone can overpower the narrative and fail to attract and sustain the viewer’s interest. Eric Fischl’s work often contains quite emotional content but his painterly abilities are strong (he is a superb composer), and he succeeds in striking a balance. Paul Fenniak and of course Edward Hopper also come to mind for their ability to hit the mark in this difficult balancing act.

Finding the sweet spot in this formidable artistic conundrum is Kathy Liao’s task as well. She has a compelling story to tell in her work about maintaining intimate human connections in an increasingly large and complicated world, and she has the formal skills to do so with verve and imagination. Because she knows what she’s doing visually, Liao’s work is lifted rather than sunk by the power of her narrative. Take for example these two small works on paper. The painting So Close and So Far, an image depicting a computer conversation via FaceTime, with the small rectangle of the artist in the upper left overlapping the larger image of her grandmother, demonstrates Liao’s talent for visual invention. Similarly in Scrolling Up and Down, an image of a passenger on a subway scrolling a smart phone, she has juxtaposed the figures in a manner that would please Degas. “

The emphasis of this show will be on Liao’s paintings. She works in a variety of sizes, in oil and water-based media, as well as collage on both canvas and paper.

Kathy Liao received her MFA in Painting at Boston University and her BFA in Painting and Drawing from the University of Washington.  After graduate school she returned to Seattle in 2012, maintaining a studio and showing her work in several local galleries including Prographica. Liao taught at Gage Academy of Art as well as on an adjunct basis at the University of Washington and Seattle University. In 2014 she became an Assistant Professor of Art and the Director of Painting and Printmaking at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Missouri. Liao currently lives in Kansas City.  She will be in Seattle for the opening of her show and to teach a workshop at Gage Academy.

In 2017 Kathy Liao had solo shows at Kiosk Gallery in Kansas City, Missouri, and the University of Central Missouri Art Gallery at Warrensburg, Missouri; she has another coming up this year at Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois. Liao has also had recent solo shows at the Art Source & Design Gallery in Overland Park, Kansas, and the P.O.E. Foundation Gallery at Cottey College in Nevada, Missouri (both 2016). Recently her work has been included in Honoring the Legacy of David Park at Santa Clara University (2017, curators: John Seed, DeWitt Cheng, Jessica Phillips, and Andrea Pappas); You Will Never Be Younger Than You Are Today at PLUG Projects in Kansas City, Missouri (2016); Portrayal: Contemporary Portraiture at North Seattle College Art Gallery (2016, curator: Amanda Knowles); Sense of Place at the Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art in Augusta, Georgia; Process at the Park University Gallery in Parkville, Missouri (2016); and the 29th Annual McNeese Works on Paper at the Grand Gallery at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana (2016); and Belonging: Before and After the Immigration Act of 1965 at the Wing Luke Museum of the Pacific American Experience in Seattle (2015); Observing Observing: A White Cup at Prographica (2015); and the Texas National 2015 at the Jack and Doris Ledbetter Gallery at Stephan F Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas (2015).

Liao is a recipient of an Elizabeth Greenshield Foundation Grant, a Brooks Fellowship from Anderson Ranch, and a Jentel Fellowship.

Interested disciplines

Visual Arts