Katherine Mann: Lost Cities review by Sara Groveman

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“My paintings depict ever-changing fantasy worlds where blood cells, rainforests and coral reefs collide and intertwine. Each piece functions as a man-sized porthole into a landscape alive with minute details, patterns and interlocking systems.” That’s what the artist Katherine Mann had to say about her work which is currently showing at the Scott Gallery of Carroll Community College.

Mann combines collage with elements of Chinese ink painting, microbiology, and natural history all into a series of stunning works reflecting themes of growth and excess. Her works are complex and fascinating, almost like fantasy worlds where nature grows freely of its own accord (a possible reference to the romantic period). Perhaps this lends itself to the name of her exhibit: Lost Cities.

When using collage, the pieces are vastly different in pattern and often in style, but fit together like an intricate puzzle. Mann uses several different mediums, including acrylic, printmaking, suma ink, etc. and combines them to make a beautifully complicated work.

Not afraid to play with medium and surface, Mann lets the color bleed into the background (all on Reeves BFK paper), while other elements of the work are filled with detailed ink designs or spontaneous bursts of color. The surface of the paper is built up with layers, creating a unique texture. In several paintings, Mann lets areas intersect, implying that boundaries are negated when growth takes over. Although there are areas of identifiable pattern, their combination reminds us that these are abstract works, and so the viewer still has some freedom to decide what each work means to them.

As a student artist, I took away a sense of personal growth, and was very moved by each work as it captivates the viewer into a world that perhaps exists beyond the mind. One must look closer to see such a place, which is not surprising considering part of her inspiration comes from microbiology. “Like the fantasies and fears of childhood play, my paintings are epic narratives.” One thing is for certain– they won’t soon be forgotten.

Sara Groveman is a Senior in Advanced Studio at McDaniel College

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