Known for her unique ink-on-mylar drawings, Katina Huston exchanges her customary bicycle wheels in favor of a new ensemble of artifacts: musical instruments. While her object of focus may have changed, Huston’s process remains the same. Hanging the chosen object from her studio ceiling, she illuminates it to cast a shadow on the mylar below. She then renders each shadow in twenty shades of ink, starting with contours so as to create channels through which subsequent inks can pool and flow. The resulting forms are fluid, elusive and yet, because they are informed by objects from daily life, feel solidly rooted in reality.
For this exhibition, Huston explores musical instruments from the orchestra’s horn section such as trumpets, trombones and French horns in order to draft a visual index for aural scales. How, she asks, can musical code replay in visual information? Air is stretched through the shaft of a trombone as a shadow is stretched as an object moves in relation to light; harnessing this, Huston documents musical action. Multiple notes of a composition are captured in ink by stretching and overlaying the instrument’s shadow, a phenomenon most evident in the drawing “Scales.”
Just like a struck piano key will cause adjacent keys to vibrate, each of Huston’s forms affects the unique character of neighboring forms through color-related optical effects and the physical interaction of materials. By playing with compositional arrangement and varying the opacity and consistency of media such as India ink and silver pigmented inks, each of Huston’s pieces consequently produces a specific musical equivalent ranging from jazzy syncopation to rising aria and symphonic masterpiece. Venturing beyond mere cross-sensory metaphors however, Huston’s art actually engages one sense, such as sight, in order to activate the experience of another, such as audition, and vice versa. The evocative, reverberating energy contained within these shadowy facsimiles allows them to transcend their original referent, conjuring up experiences both remembered and imagined.
Katina Huston was born in San Francisco in 1961. She earned her undergraduate degree from New York University followed by a M.F.A. from Mills College, Oakland. In addition to exhibiting both nationally and internationally, Huston’s work can be found in the permanent collection of the Achenbach Collection at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, de Young & Legion of Honor.