Katherine Gailer: The Power of Women
Katherine Gailer was born in Colombia, and planned to study in Germany until a friend suggested she visit Melbourne. Upon arriving, she fell in love with the city’s arts scene and now practises her art full-time from her studio. Drawing and painting has been a part of Katherine’s life since she was in high school. “I can remember myself as a student, drawing in every subject.” After finishing school, she decided to pursue art as a career and went on to study fine arts and arts management at RMIT university.
Early on in Katherine’s career, her work involved a lot of spontaneity. “In the past I dedicated a lot of time to developing compositions that incorporated abstract and figurative styles, with the idea of portraying that side of women which is mysterious; an underworld that still has many layers to be rediscovered and understood.” However, as the years have passed, Katherine’s process has become more meditative.
Katherine creates her work using a mixture of oil paints, gold leaf and natural elements. Using gold leaf is a way to tap into her cultural heritage and to express the power of women. “I started using gold leaf and that was a big turning point for my practice. Incorporating this material not only became a whole new journey – technically, it is a lot more complex – but allowed me to connect, honour and heal within that golden space.” Gold has been quite a significant material in Colombian traditions. “Our Indigenous communities use a lot of gold to honour and to connect and to pass on their traditions.” Using the gold leaf is also a way for Katherine to express the power of the women she paints. “I started using this material with the intention of honouring women, nature and earth; understanding this ‘golden space’. It is a space for enlightenment, meditation and transformation.”
Recently, Katherine has started a series of work on wood bark, as she is “now more interested in the regeneration processes of nature. Combining these three elements allows me to tap into natural cycles of destruction and re-creation. There is this admiration to that resilient quality of life.” By painting her women on wood bark that she finds, she is linking women to the Earth.
Katherine’s art practice often explores the story of women. “Women are recreating and restoring their identity. Reinventing an identity. And I’m interested in that discovery.” She draws upon the full spectrum of women’s experiences, and aims to capture a diverse range of women’s stories. “My art is about that, it’s about recognising difference and different experiences.” The subject of the current painting is a flamenco dancer and a friend. “She is powerful! You see her, and she is power, she is Earth.”
In the future, Katherine hopes to connect more with other artists and exhibit. “Right now I’m developing a project with other female artists, as I believe connecting with other artists and being unified in a single message really is powerful.” She always wants to explore the idea of taking art as a meditation practice, and sharing that with other people. “I acknowledge everyday the healing quality of art. It facilitates meditation; it facilitates that idea of stopping the mind and being able to reconnect with yourself.”
There are many artists that Katherine looks up to and is inspired by. She says one of her “favourite artists in the world” is Marina Abramovic. Frida Kahlo is also high on her list. However, she’s not just limited to visual and performance artists. Musicians, poets and creatives in all their forms inspire her passion, including Isabel Allende, Maya Angelou, Erykha Badu and Bjork.
“I joined [Bluethumb] because I love the idea of artists connecting to the public through new media. Bluethumb offers the opportunity to reach new audiences and it is an online platform that challenges the traditional art industry. It is tapping into the true potential of our online media. The art world is changing, our world is changing, and never before we’ve been so connected. Joining artistic communities such as Bluethumb means that I can grow my network and expand my career.”