Katherine Atkins

Self Portrait #18: It’s Mine, It’s Mine, It’s Mine

Self Portrait #18: It’s Mine, It’s Mine, It’s Mine …
Acrylic on panel
24” x 24”

Artist Statement

From an environmental perspective, and even from a ‘relative marginalization’ perspective, it’s not easy to be green while participating in settler colonial culture.   
Using self portraiture as a vehicle for social critique, Self Portrait #18 portrays me as a Limousin breed cow (an actual breed of cattle), pumped up on self proclaimed God given Divine-roids, mobilizing my righteous knee, engaged in a demonstration of dominance. How can I be environmentally green when I’m busy upholding the colonial project that underpins the industrial complex of land-based resource extraction? As a privileged white settler, it’s a stretch claiming green-kinship with Elphaba and Kermit.
Self Portrait #18: It’s Mine, It’s Mine, It’s Mine …, references the violent colonial project of clearing the land of the Plains Indigenous Peoples for settler agricultural activities, and the ongoing violent domination that is intrinsic to colonialism. It also references the murder of George Floyd by police officer, Derek Chauvin, with my cow-knee pressed into the buffalo’s neck. The privileges and benefits I enjoy are all linked to the expansion of settler culture, which was in part made possible through the violent kidnapping of Black Peoples from their homelands for slave labour here in the ‘New World.’ As we know, violence against non-settler bodies is deemed necessary as the go-to strategy in carrying out the settler colonial project. 
The compositional device of a deconstructed square, a binary colour pallet, reference to Christianity, metaphor, symbolism and text are employed in my critique of colonialism in this work.  

Born and raised in Ottawa Ontario, Katherine relocated to Vancouver in 1982 in order to be part of a larger gay community. In 1993 she became active in the local artist’s community and went on to graduate from Emily Carr University of Art and Design in 2004. As well as being a founding member of the Pride in Art Society, which hosts the annual Queer Arts Festival in Vancouver, Katherine is also one of a group of local artist who founded the 901 Artist Cooperative and established Portside Artist Studios in 2009.

Katherine’s artwork is both personal and political. One of the driving forces behind her interdisciplinary art practice her desire to better understand the ways in which negative social conditioning, such as sexism, homophobia, colonialism and racism, has caused her thinking and behaviour to be incongruent with her values. As well as serving as a social critique, pointing out social dis-ease, Katherine’s art work critiques her internalization of said social conditioning. Consequently, she often employs representational and/or metaphoric self-portraiture in her art. Coming from a ‘recovery’ perspective, Katherine holds the practice of not asking another person to go into emotionally, mentally, and psychically challenging places she is not willing to go herself. Implicating herself in social critique, then, is necessary. Her art work, then, becomes a confessional. Katherine shares her internal excavation discoveries and intra-personal discord in an effort to create an intimate and empathic connection with the viewer, with the hope of promoting social healing.