By Shu-Ju Wang

Kate Krider had a recurring dream—trapped in a house suspended above a body of water, she was about to fall through the floor into the churning waves below where ‘evil’ lurked. The waves splashed and slapped, and Kate was afraid.

One night, she finally did fall through that floor, and found herself falling upon the ‘waves’ in the raked gravel of a Japanese garden. It was beautiful, peaceful, and delightful.

She knew she had to paint this image, and the dream has never returned.


Below, Kate Krider’s first painting, that of her falling through the house into the ‘waves’ below.


As an artist, Kate Krider has always known what interested her. The signs of civilization that give us comfort—whether it’s a house, a cairn, a spirit dwelling or a holy object—form a continuous thread from her days as paper-maker to the mid-career artist of today, working in painting and 3-dimensional collages.

But at the same time, that other sign of civilization, water—both comforting and menacing—is also evident in her work. That water is absolutely necessary in the art of paper-making and paper-casting balanced against her struggles and fears of water in her dreams. Or that she loves to paint cairns of rocks made smooth by water, precariously balanced and reaching up to the sky.

Her travels to Vietnam in 2001 served to heighten her interests when she instantly connected with Vietnamese paintings of houses on water and the ideas of spirit houses. And she has been painting houses on water and making spirit houses elevated on stilts or ball feet ever since.

Although Kate considers herself to be a self-taught painter, she has a formal arts background with an MFA in Mixed Media from JFK University in California. Looking through her portfolio of her paper-casting pieces (her specialization in graduate school), the themes of ‘house’ and ‘water’ were clearly present then. Paper-making and casting eventually gave way to painting and 3-dimensional collages as she found her paper-casting more and more commercialized and less personally and artistically satisfying. But as she switched mediums, the threads of house, home and water continued.

Family, home, and finding home are the big themes in my work,” Kate says. I also see that looking for that point between comfort and uncertainty being an important aspect of her work. She puts the water above the stilts; she makes the house with an invisible floor, or a floor covered in undecipherable writings; and finally, her anything goes attitude when it comes to making spirit houses. There’s a spirit house for Keith Richards, for example, covered in guitar picks for roofing materials.

In recent months, Kate has focused on making 3-dimensional collages based on cigar boxes. But perhaps you won’t be surprised to find that house, water, and spiritual places play an important role there too!

Below, a recent 3-dimensional collage based on a cigar box.


To see more of Kate Krider’s work, visit her website at Kate is artist #43 in the 2009 Portland Open Studios tour. To learn more about the tour, visit Tour Guides are available online through the website, or at New Seasons, Art Media, and other retail outlets listed on the website.

Below, her sculpture Family Arc presents herself as a newborn, coming home from the hospital with her mother, enclosed in a transparent arc on stilts surrounded by water. Only the watery waves are between the arc and the stilts, almost as if she is telling her baby-self to see the water, to be on the water, and to not fear the water.