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My work is an invitation into the layered experience of temporal beauty, memory, and loss that makes up every-day human life.  It is inspired by an exploration of the seen and unseen and a searching for the divine in daily living expressed by contradictory measures of playfulness, compulsion, jubilance, and sorrow.


I am inspired by this rich layering of human experience to create interdisciplinary pieces that greet you with the human eyes on a mysterious blue butterfly,  offer you a solitary journey through a dark night of a remembered home, and guide you through an archway of second sight into a cerulean toned world of surprise and contradiction.

Kate Kern is an interdisciplinary visual artist who creates installations that combine drawing, artists' books, and stop motion animations. Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, she received a BFA from the University of Dayton and an MFA in Drawing from the University of Cincinnati. Her recent solo exhibition, Calling, at the Alice F. and Harris K. Weston Art Gallery (Cincinnati, OH) featured her first stop-motion animation, The Night is Dark and the House is Dark, projected within an immersive installation.


Kern has been the recipient of grants from the City of Cincinnati, the Ohio Arts Council, Arts Midwest and Summerfair. She was a finalist in the Cincinnati Art Museum’s inaugural 4th Floor Biennial Award for Contemporary Art.  Her work was included in the exhibition in print, International Drawing Annual 6, published by Manifest Drawing and Research Center. She was artist in residence in 2017 at the International School of Beijing; Beijing, China and a fellow at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts in Amherst, VA in 2011. Her etching B Leaf in Heaven is part of the Clay Street Press, Cincinnati Portfolio IV, published in 2013. Her work can be found in collections including: The Akron Art Museum, The Cincinnati Art Museum, The Getty Research Institute, Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection, School of the Art Institute of Chicago; Franklin Furnace /MOMA Artist Book Collection, MOMA library, and the Artists’ Book Collections of Carnegie Mellon University, University of Cincinnati, Brown University, and others.

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About my projects

My projects reflect my working process; they do not necessarily occur in a neat linear timeline. A new project might emerge in the form of a piece that I will set aside for several years until the next part of the process becomes clear.  Projects can include a range of disciplines, including drawing, artists' books, installation, and  stop-motion animation.

Sometimes a project comes together as a single exhibition, as shown in CALLING, but more often this is not the case. Always and Everywhere and Ordinary Time are projects that have expanded beyond a single exhibition and a single genre. Occasionally a project involves working collaboratively with other artists, as seen in Wounded Home, an exhibition inspired by the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War, created for the Lloyd Library and Museum.  


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About my artists' books

I began making artists’ books in 1986, and since then I have created editioned and one-of-a-kind books that play with the form and function of a book, offering a direct physical experience as well as a direct pathway to imagination (like reading). 

Books like Instructions and Glove Index both recognize and subvert the voice of authority, while Mother’s Day and Clean House Clean Mind Anthology expand on the complexity of domestic life.

My artists’ books can stand alone and at the same time are often part of a larger project. Images of books are included in the galleries connected with various projects on this website. Additional images and descriptions can be found in the shop, in the complete artists’ book bibliography and in my digital blog project Second Sight.

If you would like more information about any aspect of my artists’ books please contact me directly.

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About "I Agree to Pay"

"I Agree to Pay" is my most recent project and includes a series of drawings and series of artists books.  Both series respond to a range of situations (many ambiguous and fictional) that call for personal compliance. Inspired by the statement “I agree to pay” found under the signature line on an old credit card receipt, the drawings and artists' books in this project also play with the tension between written language and the language of drawing.


The drawings are made with ink applied with a brush over pencil on Mohawk Superfine Cover (eggshell) paper and are shown in pairs or in an ambiguous fan shape.  The artists' books each feature a similarly made hand-drawn image on a single sheet of Mohawk Text Superfine paper that folds into two book-cloth over bookboard covers stamped in silver with the title.

I agree to pay
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