SARATOGA SPRINGS — In a world of collective chaos, abstract art has never been more relatable.
The splash of colors, textures and mediums in abstract art are somewhat ambiguous. While the figures you see might not necessarily be identifiable, the message behind abstract art, and the people who create it, shows a pattern of ebbs and flows, much like life itself.
Katherine Mulvaney knows this way too well. A mom of two young boys, she’s always on the go. On the side of her career, she’s helping to market both her art and Americana band C.K. and The Rising Tide. Art has been her form of escapism since she was a child.
Mulvaney’s latest pieces are showing at Collective131 through the summer. While Mulvaney’s work has been shown at art shows before, this is the first time she’s made an appearance at a gallery she wasn’t affiliated with as a member or otherwise.
“Getting picked for this exhibit really did validate all of this hard work,” Mulvaney said. “When I made the decision to really go full throttle on this passion of mine, it required a ton of faith in myself. It’s nice to see that this hard work has crystallized into an opportunity to show my work.”
Mulvaney is quite the art connoisseur. Her work is colorfully chaotic, something she admits is a reflection of her as a person. On her website (kmulvaneyart.com), rows of paintings color the screen. Some are colorful, representing the brighter days she goes through. Others are heavy on the grays and blacks. Mulvaney said each color, each brushstroke, each choice she makes during the working of a piece is purposeful.
“When I’m really struggling with something, it makes sense for me to just throw a ton of paint on a canvas,” she said, adding many of the “drip” paintings on her website were made during those times. “The ones you see with gentle, watered-down brush strokes are the ones I turned to when I needed gentle comfort. Like many other artists, art is my coping mechanism to feel some sort of concrete when things feel adrift.”
The Collective131 show is showcasing solely women artists, something that influences artists’ world, much like anything else. Because Mulvaney is a busy mom, her time is constrained more than ever. She, like many parents, took on different roles when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. She said the art she produced during that time represented the struggles she endured while waiting for word on what was coming next.
“I’m definitely a person that pours it all on the canvas,” Mulvaney continued. “There are stories behind each painting and the emotions I was feeling when going through it. When things feel dark, this helps me navigate life.”
Mulvaney’s work also honors music, her other love. She listens to music while creating, but it has a catch. She only listens to one artist during her time with the canvas — sometimes, only one song — and it gets her in the mindset she needs to be. The titles of her work, which sometimes reflect the painting itself and other times lend a sense of mystery, reflect the music she was consuming. Keeping with one artist or song prevents the mental wall that can be created when you jump from one genre or artist to another — unless it’s from a very closely curated playlist, the jarring transition can snap you out of a zone.
“Art saved me when galleries were closed last year because normally I go see other people’s work and find solace there as well,” Mulvaney concluded, “so to be creating for myself, and seeing my own art in the places I go to find peace, is such an extraordinary moment.”