Arts & Culture

5 Questions: Kate Castelli


Kate Castelli is a Boston-based artist working in printmaking and book arts. She received her BFA from Lesley College of Art and Design, and her MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (SMFA). Castelli has actively shown in the Boston area, including the Fourth Wall Project, Voltage Gallery, Gallery 808, and the Boston Public Library. You can currently see her work at Twelve Chairs Gallery, 581 Tremont Street, Boston, MA, up till April 26th, and online at I asked her a few questions about her most recent exhibition.

1) Describe your artwork creation process.

An active part of my process is to haunt used bookstores and antique shops, especially when I travel. The surfaces and grounds are as important as what I print and draw on them. I am rarely without my sketchbook. It’s filled with visual and written fragments, musings, and research. Everything begins and ends in the sketchbook. Carving the actual woodblocks can take anywhere from 4 to 12 hours to complete. My drawings can take just as long, so a good soundtrack in the studio is essential! And I can’t print without music.

2) Much of your work is filled with painted or carved lines, what role does mark-making play in your work?

Mark-making is a vital part of my work. The lines in my prints and drawings are both obsessive and meditative. They echo the written and printed word, horizons, falling rain, and the endless balance between order and chaos.

3) You often use antique book pages to print on, what draws you to use these repurposed surfaces?

I hate white paper and the daunting newness of it. It has no story. Found paper has a subtlety that new paper lacks. The color is particularly beautiful, but more importantly the paper has a memory and a history. Much of my work explores how I can edit, alter, or add to that history.

4) When someone walks into your show, what do you hope they will grasp or enjoy about your work?

I have all these narrative threads that run throughout my work: travelling and the desire to be elsewhere, cities, fragments of literature and art history, small moments that need to be recorded or remembered. They all get layered on top of each other to weave something new out of something old. There is a subtle poetic tension in that, something mysterious and lingering. Someone once described my work as “Sherlockian,” and that has always seemed very accurate.

5) How do you see your work evolving in the future?

More circles? Not circles? That is the question of the moment.

Bonus Question) What’s your favorite art supply?

Black ink, PVA glue, and bone folders are not necessary my favorite, but they are the most essential.

Photo courtesy of the artist.


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