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Gallery

Sometimes beauty appears only for a short instant, as a flash of visual energy.

It’s the photographer’s job to wait, observe, and then pounce.

Kate Joyce is a visual artist based in Chicago. In 2000 she collaborated with Rebecca Solnit and Susan Schwartzenberg on their book, Hollow City:The Siege of San Francisco and the Crisis of American Urbanism. In 2003 Kate received a Lewis Hine Documentary Initiative Fellowship and spent one year in Bloemfontein, South Africa working on documentary projects with a local NGO whose work centers on early childhood education. Between 2006-2009 she worked for the architectural photography studio, Hedrich Blessing, as an apprentice, web designer, and staff photographer. In 2010 she started Kate Joyce Studios and continues to work with clients on architectural and design projects.

Currently she is collaborating with writer and W. Eugene Smith biographer, Sam Stephenson. Kate’s work has appeared in the New Yorker, the Paris Review Daily, the Chicagoan, and Architect Magazine. Her work is in the collections of The Museum of New Mexico and Duke University Perkins Library Special Collections & Rare Archive.

All images used with permission, copyright © the artist, all rights reserved.

The Morning News:

How long has “Soliloquies” been in progress?

Kate Joyce:

Soliloquies came out of a three-year practice. In 2009 I started emailing a newsletter and a miniature portfolio of seven new photographs to a few hundred people once a month. It was a new mode of working. At the time, and only in retrospect, I realize I was seeking an ethical and social compass. The monthly mini-portfolio and newsletter allowed me to realign with my work through a wide range of people I valued and cared about—clients, old high school friends, colleagues, family. The monthly practice ended in 2012. I narrowed the three years of accumulated work into this final portfolio.

TMN:

How many images have you shot to arrive at this group?

KJ:

This grouping was teased from the original 259 images that made up the monthly miniature portfolios. That archive of 259 images is preserved here.

TMN:

Each square seems very structured—the composition unites the series. Is that more a part of your editing or is it an aspect of when you’re staring through the viewfinder?

KJ:

The compositions are a hybrid of in-camera framing and in-studio cropping. In the 20 years that I’ve been making photographs I’ve consistently composed full-frame (with an aversion to cropping). This project began while I was working with a square format Hasselblad camera. In 2010 I switched my primary camera to 35mm digital, but I wanted to continue exploring square compositions, so I began cropping the work. This no doubt affected the structure of the final image. The compositional decisions I make on the street are centered around spontaneity and emotional triggers. The compositional decisions I make in the studio are concerned with balancing visual energy around a central point. Working with a square is more like working with a circle.

TMN:

You live and work in Chicago. What first comes to mind visually when you think of the city?

KJ:

A density of towers cleaved by the shallows of a river, sutured by bridges.

TMN:

What major artist are you still waiting to “get?”

KJ:

There are several, but the one I’ve been struggling with most recently is Eugène Atget (which feels like admitting I’m still waiting to understand my father).

TMN:

When was the last time someone else’s artwork changed the way you see or think?

KJ:

This summer, Julie Mehretu’s energetic layered explosions of space and John Gossage’s odd tenderness to things that sneak up out of the corner of your eye while walking along a street. Last week, Italian Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi’s depiction of female hands. And a couple days ago, Daniel Orozco’s short story “Shakers,” passed along by a good friend.

TMN:

What purpose does the camera on your phone serve for you?

KJ:

Taking notes.

TMN:

When are you least inspired?

KJ:

Whenever I’m hungry (or should I say “hangry?”).

TMN:

Which is more noble for an artist, to “suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,” or to “take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them?”

KJ:

This summer a Japanese gallery owner looked at “Soliloquies” and said, I see all these splashes of reds and pinks and oranges, why? I wish I had answered, yes, that is the “native hue of resolution,” evidence of the courage we need to stop talking ourselves out of the things we care about.