A Strange and Wondrous Odyssey towards Change / by Kat Howard

Our 335 year old stone house...

"The last thing I wanted was infinite security and to be the place an arrow shoots off from. I wanted change and excitement and to shoot off in all directions myself, like the colored arrows from a Fourth of July rocket." - The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath

Much has happened since I last wrote, at the close of my Thesis Show. After receiving my Master's Degree, my husband Aaron and I (along with our son, Magnus) decided to move from the hustle & bustle of New York City to the Hudson Valley, to a town nestled in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains.

It was a longstanding dream of ours, one that had been tucked back in to the corners of our minds while life happened frantically around us: jobs, two cross country moves, graduate school, a new baby. Even with our busy lives in the city, we found that we both hungered for change. We'd fallen in to a rhythm that was focused on all of the unimportant things, and we found ourselves meandering through Prospect Park sketching out the projects we each hoped to have the space and time to take on - one day. 

So, we took a deep breath and plunged in to the unknown territory of house hunting, learning an unfamiliar town, navigating a rural region with harsher weather, and built something new from scratch. We took comfort in the abundant independent book stores, friendly neighbors, and the knowledge that the hopes from our pensive strolls now had a place to take root. We had the beautiful misfortune of falling in love with a 335 year old stone house, which was originally built by Dutch settlers, and still has charred beams in the basement from when the British tried to burn it to the ground in 1777. The wiring, plumbing, floors, kitchen and bathrooms all needed to be stripped and redone, but we only had eyes for the opportunities this house could offer us.

Since we closed on the house, around 6 months ago, it's taken on the shape of a rather large-scale installation project for me. And I've loved practically every minute of it. Even while pouring myself in to the design and lay out of our new/old house, I didn't have as much time for my other creative practices, I was able to learn the joy that comes with the 'making' of a home in to a space ripe for inspiration. I documented much of the renovation and design on my Instagram account, and viewed the house as an artist's book, to activate thinking about the space in an innovative way. After months of toil, paint fumes, hammering, pratfalls and tears, along with the occasional whispered ghost sighting, this ancient stone house has finally become the vessel we hoped it would be. 

Now that this work is behind me, my fingers have been itching to tackle the artistic ideas that have long been rattling around in my head and bring them in to the physical realm. I'm excited to share with you several new projects that I've been cultivating, among them a series of monochromatic weavings, embroidered texts, leather and vellum hand-bound books made from locally sourced deerskin, and some new zines. In the coming weeks I'll be re-opening my Etsy shop as Book Meat Studio, and I'll continue to document my work here. I hope you enjoy seeing the fruits of my labor; this strange and wondrous odyssey towards change.