Today we have the pleasure of speaking with artist and educator Katie Hudnall, whose work caught my eye when I was exploring the designs that make up the Public Collection, a series of public art pieces (think large-scale Little Free Libraries) in Indianapolis. We spoke with Katie about her work and her relationship to libraries. Enjoy! ~Laura
Library as Incubator Project (LAIP): Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your work.
Katie Hudnall (KH): I teach Furniture Design & Woodworking at Herron School of Art & Design in Indianapolis, IN, where I live and make work. I got my BFA from the Corcoran College of Art in 2001 – I went in with an interest in Illustration, but very early on realized I was more interested in sculpture & woodworking (though I was not a natural at it). I later went back to school to get my MFA in Craft/Material Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University in Woodworking/Furniture Design. I am most interested in the place where art, craft and design overlap, and where each decision you make as a designer/builder has consequences on aesthetic, functional and conceptual outcomes.
“Nautilus” by Katie Hudnall, for the Public Collection series.
LAIP: What is/has been your relationship to libraries, in your creative work and research?
KH: My work is often narrative, and still has a lot of the early illustrative qualities in it that drew me to art in the first place, so often my relationship to libraries has been about sitting in tiny chairs in the children’s section. The Central Indianapolis Public Library is a really beautiful building, and they have great art reference books, so I’ve started spending a lot of time in those sections too – bringing home giant coffee table books and pouring over pictures of wooden architecture, Joan Miro’s paintings and Edward Gorey’s drawings and illustrations.
LAIP: Can you tell us a little about the inspiration for your piece in the Public Collection?
I call the piece “Nautilus” both because it looks a bit like a shell (I used the golden ratio to design the tight part of the spiral, so it’s very much like a nautilus shell on that end) and because I wanted it to reference boats (or any transportation really) and I was thinking of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
. The transportation idea came about because my piece is in Eskenazi hospital, and I was thinking about how important books have been in my life when I needed most to be lifted up and away from whatever circumstances I was dealing with at the time – like being sick, or being in a hospital waiting room worrying about someone I love.
LAIP: As an artist, what does your ideal library look like? What would it feel like, smell like, etc.?
KH: The Indianapolis Public Library is pretty close to perfect for me. I also really love the private collections of my friends and family – my parents have a beautiful library on the first floor of their home in Virginia, and it’s got a fireplace and wingback chairs too.