Katrijn Schatterman Essay by Robin Rice

Katrijn Schatterman Essay by Robin Rice

Katrijn Schatteman aka Zuz
Spring 2008 Fellow

The “artist name” Zuz adopted by Belgian artist Katrijn Schatteman should be regarded almost as one of her works. The Spring, 2008 Resident Fellow at the Creative Glass Center of America had always been fascinated by the possibility of having a pseudonym and finally gave herself one. Zuz is a homonym for a Belgian colloquialism for sister (Zuz, similar in usage and meaning to Sis in English). The only daughter in her family, Schatterman was called “Zuz” at home. However, Zuz is “just a name” to Schatterman. She does not really like to be addressed as “Zuz” by acquaintances.

Family is important to Schatterman and her family is supportive of the artist in practical ways. Both her father and brother operate large equipment which has been a key element in constructing and displaying her work.

One might propose that beyond the current availability of these powerful over-sized machines, Schatterman’s life-long familiarity with them and their potential was a factor in her impulse to use them in unexpected ways to make art. One of her two brothers supervises and advises her on welded construction and all the men, including her father, pitch in on occasion. “I didn’t expect help from them but all of a suddent they were cutting wood and putting parts together because they were enthusiastic about the work. It gives me a lot of energy,” she says.

In another response to family, Schatterman has made large pencil drawings of her grandparents, hoping to capture “all the life experience in their faces.” Time in its various manifestations is a primary theme for this young artist. Her glass brick wall In Time  is intended to be gradually modified by a living vine growing in the cracks between the bricks. “I work a lot with time and have patience,” she says.

She became interested in sailing and boats last summer after attending workshops at Pilchuck in Seattle. There she studied with CGCA Creative Director Hank Adams and, partly influenced by Yann Martel’s novel Life of Pi,  constructed a deep-keeled fantasy boat from glass, rubber and pieced together lengths of wood. She plans to eventually place this outdoors to weather.

At around the same time, she says,  “I began stitching pieces of cloth together and then decided on a sail,” Schatteman recalls. Constructed as a separate work, the enormous triange is composed of squarish bits of fabric saved over many years. Some belonged originally to her mother. Schatteman likes to attach the sail’s peak to a cherry picker machine outdoors so that the multicolored fabric bellies out in the wind.

In spite of the scale and sometimes laborious construction of some of her work, she seems to approach it intuitively. The projects embody ideas but they are not strictly conceptual or programatic. That very natural, expressive ambiguity is a strength of her work. It allows viewers to enter into it, bringing their own feelings and concepts rather than subjecting them to a pre-planned “lesson” of pre-packaged ideas.

Humorous and menacing, Belkman  (approximately 6 meters or 19.5 feet tall) has an armoured welded sheet metal body and slightly sloping rubber beak. It looms overhead; its ungainly possibly sinister silhouette ofset by large glass ears and strange cold glass eyes.

Though much of her sculpture does not include glass, Schatteman, who savors the qualities of many materials, acknowledges “I have a weakness for glass.” She mastered many techniques for working with glass in completing a Masters of Plastic Arts at Sint-Lucas in Ghent, Belgium and at the Gerritt Rietveld academy in Amsterdam, Netherlands. With no current access to a hotshop in Belgium, at CGCA Schatterman plans to produce elements that can be incorporated into larger works. Right now she envisions something that will be a continuation of the ship theme, a large open metal bouy structure which will be filled with glass elements. On the other hand, she is confident that whatever she makes will find its way into future work.