A Maker of Meandering Daydreams
Alaska's own Kate Laster is an artist, poet, and, most importantly, a "chaos-induced" doodler. Our love of her work is only matched by our shared appreciation of Maggie Nelson. Laster now resides in San Francisco, earning her MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute.
This printmaker creates her work from medium-density fiberboard (MDF), ephemera, and vellum paper. Laster believes in embracing and never shying away from your emotions. Her constant observations are taken down in her sketchbook and are often accompanied by some shorthand poetry. Laster believes in the power of getting her thoughts down on paper—no matter how silly or mindless, start by getting it down on paper. She'll go back to her doodles and find an image that strikes her, which leads to her carving. The physical, muscle memory comes from the need to physically imprint these images. It takes time, but it's a part of her.
The above portraits come from a 2016 linocut series called "Passport Project." Laster created over one hundred portrait prints of people in her community. She began drawing people when she transferred to Evergreen State in Olympia, Washington. Her journals became filled with the faces of strangers.
"When you're drawing in a public place, you become part of it," she says. "Even when I was drawing strangers, I was part of their reflections."
Laster is influenced by scraps of conversation, bus rides, and wandering around. All of her stray thoughts are taken down in her notebooks. She loves the artists Paul Klee, Yoshitomo Nara, Lynda Barry, and Käthe Kollwitz. And as she's earning her MFA, she lives among an amazing group of artists that inspire her.
Her days are spent under a pile of schoolwork, drawing every day, and hopefully carving for a couple hours. She finds joy in kindred spirits and finishing her deadlines. Still her ambitious spirit makes her question what's next.
One of her most recent accomplishments included being published in comic poetry journal called Ink Brick. This rad publication also featured Ru Paul's Drag Race winner Sasha Velour.
Laster is a late-night schemer. She can be a bit of worry wort, but uses her drawing skills to help her cope.
Rather than a classic white-sheeted ghost, Laster believes in what Walter Benjamin calls the aura of an artwork. And her thoughts on aliens tend to focus on protozoa and bacteria-like lifeforms.
Laster's motivational mantra:
"Keep going. When you get there, there you are."
To parallel her carving, Laster is a lover of words:
"I name all my journals. Word is indelibly tied to what I make. My mom is a writer. I have to connect these things—words and images—together. That’s really important."
Carve out some space in your heart and follow Kate on Instagram. @howlingmoondog