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"Why is it still?": Katrina Andry


The Promise of the Rainbow Never Came #7, 2017

Color reduction woodcut with mylar on printmaking paper



Katrina Andry (b. 1981) is a printmaker whose narrative work explores the negative effects of stereotypes.


Andry, a product of New Orleans, combines research, imagination, and craftsmanship to create thoughtful, provocative narrative works that look at history to make sense of the present and challenge viewers to image different futures. She has been exploring her current theme for twelve years, since graduating from a MFA program. Andry recently finished her inaugural solo exhibition with her new gallery representatives in Chicago.


“I am trying to showcase people’s experiences. This is a collective experience, and I don’t want that to be buried.”


“‘Why is it still?’ I would like for viewers to question what role they play in maintaining these negative and detrimental stereotypes and experiences.”



Katrina Andry was born in New Orleans. New Orleans is known for its Creole culture, a blend of ancestry, food and culture from French, Spanish, West African, Indigenous American peoples. Within this culture, there have historically been social hierarchies based on physical features. As a rule of thumb, the more closely one appeared to have European features, the better they were treated and the more opportunity they had. For example, Andry’s grandmother, who had African ancestry, had red hair, freckles and gray eyes. She passed as white in society and could freely move in places where her own children couldn’t. These social hierarchies based on color and other physical features, unfortunately, still exist. Andry became aware of how her color influenced her life in middle school when she moved from one part of New Orleans to another. She also acutely remembers her grandmother praising the smoothness of her hair as a young child. And the shock expressed by her father when she shaved it all off in protest during her college years. In her 2019-20 series Colonial Colorism Influences in the Black Community – Past and Present, Andry makes reference to the culture praising certain features by referencing a brown wooden spoon (used to make pigtails for children with “good hair”), and “creamy crack”, a reference to relaxer used to make hair straighter and smoother.


Addicted to Creamy Crack and Passing the Brown Wooden Spoon Test, 2020


Andry completed a MFA from Louisiana State University in 2010. There she fell in love with printmaking, first lithography, then intaglio, and finally woodblock, which has become her medium of choice. She specializes in the color reduction woodblock technique, in which one block of wood is used for each print. This method, compared to using multiple blocks, has a much lower margin for error since each layer must be shaved away after use. “I really liked the idea that I couldn’t re-edition, and that if I fucked up, I had to start over. Throughout this process, I’ve become more technical and a better craftsperson.”



At the beginning of each new series (which she explores for about two years), Andry immerses herself in research. She reads books, papers, as much literature as she can find on the topic to inform herself and shape the narrative she wishes to communicate. She then creates compositions by drawing directly on the woodblock, preps and carves the wood before coloring. Her process is methodical and, at times, meditative.


With her experience growing up in New Orleans as a point of departure, Andry has explored a range of themes over the 12 years since her master’s thesis. Her 2017 series The Promise of the Rainbow Never Came offers an alternate mythology for African men, women, and children thrown overboard during the Middle Passage. But it also speaks to today’s violence against people of color. This shows a common theme of Andry’s work – a bold exploration of history with striking references to how history impacts the present.


Andry recently announced representation by Flxst Contemporary Gallery in Chicago. Her inaugural solo exhibition with the gallery was on view from April 2nd to May 15th, 2022. Below is one of the works from her 2017 series The Promise of the Rainbow Never Came which is available at the moment. If you’d like to learn more about this work or others from Katrina, please email anthony@yourartmatch.com.



The Promise of the Rainbow Never Came #7, 2017

Color reduction woodcut with mylar on printmaking paper

58 × 42 in

Edition 2/4

$6,000





Watch Katrina describe her 2015 exhibition, Initiating Cause and Effect:


References:

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