Kathy Park

Kathy Park

Art, Writing, and Teaching

Artist’s Statement: My art career spans over fifty years and my work is in private collections nationwide. Currently I am represented by my own gallery Dreampower Art Works here in Alamosa, Colorado where Henry and I live and make art, and also Alamosa Home Furnishings and Fine Art.

My figurative work celebrates the rich and profound experience of living in an intutively wise and intelligent body.  Whether carved wood or stone, drawing, paintings, or appliquéd quilts, my work is all about embodiment. 

Kathy sculpting

I believe embodiment is crucial to our times.  Our over-developed world’s decay, disrespect and disembodiment lead us first to a denial of the body and ultimately to a destructive arrogance and dishonoring of the Earth and her diverse peoples.  Embodiment, on the other hand, is the source of understanding what it means to be alive and conscious on the Earth, living with purpose, grace, peace and respect for the sacredness of all life.  I intend my strong sensual figures to inspire us to listen to and rejoice in the wisdom of our bodies.

My exploration of the figure and questions about embodiment began at an early age.  I grew up surrounded by African woodcarvings and the paintings of my  uncle, famous Bay Area figurative painter David Park.  My mother’s association with African embassy women brought a colorful stream of robust and voluptuous African women to our house, powerful and comfortable in their bodies.  In stark contrast to this bodily ease, my family struggled to cope with the difficulties  brought on by the physical handicaps of my father and sister.  Ironically, I have vision problems of my own, and more recently I am dealing with brain cancer, so it seems that physical challenges are a theme for my family.

Working with marble

Lucky for me, my dedication to working with my hands was strongly supported in my family.  I learned to love the warmth of wood from living in a house full of hand-made furniture crafted by my father and grandfather.  My mother sewed with African fabric, knitted sweaters and made quilts.  Early on, I was encouraged to work with pottery and ceramic sculpture.

A child of the sixties frustrated with the world of academics and the establishment’s hypocrisy, I dropped out from college in 1971.  Seeking meaning and practical experience as an artist, I soon hooked up with another uncle, sculptor Gordon Newell.  My long relationship with Gordon and his Sculpture Center became my self-directed art education.  Gordon  introduced me to the puzzle of carving.  Carving is fundamentally different than modeling because carving is a subtractive process;  the option to add back on or to change your mind is not available.  Gordon mentored me by showing me how to sharpen my chisels, go with the grain, and carve away everything not essential to the form.  He helped me see that the metaphor of carving can be a compass for living:  life itself carves and burnishes us, cutting away unnecessary attachments and slowly honing our souls.  In 2011, I published a memoir based on my apprenticeship with Gordon, entitled Seeing Into Stone: A Sculptor’s Journey. To read more about this book, please click on the Books button or click here to see it on Amazon.

For many years I have been a practitioner and teacher of the non-violent martial art Aikido.  I hold a second-degree black belt and have taught children, students and adults off and on since 1971.  I am also a bodywork therapist.  Aikido, bodywork and art complement and reinforce each other as powerful ways to study embodiment and creativity. In 2018 I published Aikido off the Mat: one woman’s journey using Aikido principles to stay sane in body mind and spirit through North Atlantic Books in partnership with Penguin/Random House. You can find this book here: https://www.northatlanticbooks.com/shop/aikido-off-the-mat/

In 1990, I took all aspects of my work into a federal women’s prison where for four years I directed an innovative and volunteer-run holistic health program for inmates and staff.  By 2000 I completed the task of writing about my prison work and self-published a small edition of  Soaring Over the Wall: A Volunteer’s Collection of Prison Freedom Stories.  

Much to my surprise, I returned to college in 2005 and graduated with a BA in English/Creative Writing and a Theatre minor.  I went on to graduate school and earned an MFA in creative writing/nonfiction from Lesley University in 2010. ftAer a few years of teaching on campus or online through Adams State University, I now teach a wide range English classes through Adams State University Extended Studies Prison College Program. All the courses are old fashioned, low-tech, print-based correspondence courses and all of my students are incarcerated in various prisons throughout the nation. We correspond through what I like to call “jail mail.”

In 2015, I published a compilation of fiction, non-fiction and short plays entitled Coyote Points the Way: Borderland Stories and Plays available through Amazon by clicking here. I’m currently working on a second memoir about Aikido with the working title of Bowing Into Sensei Glioblastoma: using Aikido principles to face suffering, disease, and death.