Katerina Spilio

I am interested in visual subjects exploring authenticity and identity, feminism and destruction. I am curious about the constructs of creativity in bilingual cultures and the limits of language in different cultures. I am disturbed by injustice, and my response was to create a depiction of language’s potential ambiguities. Language is power, and lack of voice leads to opportunities for violence.

So much of what I create is informed by my studies in language and deconstruction combined with the very unusual art education in my father’s iconography studio. The two fused and what I seem to filter is an amalgam that reveres the play of language and vision.

English is such a strange language – it is mostly symbolic, the words so far removed from their actual roots that play in the language is a given. I think that is why I am both fascinated and anxious about ambiguity – in language, in visual language, and in the world. How does it inform us? How does that play in visuals (because language and communication is also visual) inform us, direct us, what is universal in cultural assumptions, what confusion arises from what isn’t universal, is there a truth at the basis of all this?

The same fascinations and obsessions that arise out of my history, also make me want to destroy and re-assemble, to respect destruction, to document and report on it. Eva Hoffman reports in Lost In Translation, that when first asked why she was qualified to be a critic, she answered “because I am an immigrant.” I am an immigrant, and the reporter in me is always alert. I lack the judging facility, as an active choice, as it keeps me porous as an artist. I would much rather process, destroy and re-assemble. Yet, it is not a process devoid of emotion, it isn’t intellectual only, as I put a tremendous amount of love and respect into this process.

The Fingerprint series arose out of the need to express various parts of identity in a simple and basic manner. The word Pneuma in Greek is intelligent spirit, Psyche is soul and Eros is sexual love. I used the notion of the 3 primary colors as an interpretation of primary individuality on a black ground and a white ground. Pneuma, Psyche, Eros, both with and without light, are my primary expressions of being. From that all secondary and tertiary expression can spring. It is not my thumbprint however. It is my index finger. I do not want to claim the spotlight. I do not have the “answer.” I would much rather live in expressions of brotherhood/sisterhood.

My “Secular Icon” Series is my love child. An image takes hold of me, often from a photograph, that has some tension, some ambiguity and undeclared dichotomy. I don’t like working from live models on these pieces, as it creates too much noise in my head about what could be true. My intent is to destroy as much of the reality and emotional filters used in our daily life and somehow get to the true reality and center of the subject. I can work on these paintings for years, letting the process do what it does.

In the “Primal Language” paintings, I was experimenting with collage and removing vowels in language. What cultural assumptions inform the choice of words, the choice of interpretation of these paintings. It is still a work in progress, as the reaction of viewers is a vital aspect of these paintings. When I first showed these paintings in my studio, some people were very angry at me. The political tension is made viable through the language. Is the lack of communication based on cultural assumptions? Much violence occurs when the words to communicate disappear or don’t exist. Can I show that visually? Can I make you feel that when you look at these images, without vowels, connected on a flat surface? Do you feel empathy or do you polarize? What happens to you, the viewer?

The photographs of St. Francis’ renovation were about destruction, debris, the roots and structure of what is real, the foundation of the spiritual and creation. While working in that church, there were so many moments that felt straight out of Heaven and Hell, as all the workers created beauty in a spiritual institution amidst the din of table saws and hammers and chains rattling. I was eating dirt, sweating bullets and photographing the joy of that destruction and resurrection. Light came in through the stained glass, casting shadows and illuminating the sawdust suspended in the air, the dust of ages being resurrected to create something new. These images were originally tests for my paintings, playing with negative and positive space and some will eventually be made into paintings.

Slowly, the various series’ I have been working on have started to join, conjoin, morph, meld, evolve, into something new. They are still expressions of my search. Mostly, I am trying to find the universals in all of us.

Selected Commissions
1982 Baptism of Christ, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, Westfield, NJ
1983 Platytera, Stained Glass, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, Westfield, NJ
1984 Pantokrator, Saint Irene Church, Astoria, NY
1985 Platytera, Saint Irene Church, Astoria, NY
1985 Pantokrator, Apostles, Platytera, Archangels, Evangelismos this Theotokou Church, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
1986 Saint Nicholas, St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, Wyckoff, NJ
1986 Saint Vasilios, St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, Wyckoff, NJ
1986 Christ, St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, Wyckoff, NJ
1986 St. John the Baptist, St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, Wyckoff, NJ
1986 Platytera, Archangels, Evangelismos this Theotokou Chapel #1, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
1987 Archangel Michael, St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, Wyckoff, NJ
1987 Archangel Gabriel, St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, Wyckoff, NJ
1987 Holy Cross, St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, Wyckoff, NJ
1987 Last Supper, Evangelismos this Theotokou Chapel#1, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
1988 Platytera, Pantokrator Evangelismos this Theotokou Chapel #1, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
1989 Baptism, Pantokrator Evangelismos this Theotokou Chapel #2, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
1993 Sts. Nicholas, Basil, Gregory, Chrysostom, Athanasios,
Transfiguration of Christ Greek Orthodox Church, Mattituck, NY
1994 The Last Supper, Transfiguration of Christ Greek Orthodox Church, Mattituck, NY
1994 The Platytera, Transfiguration of Christ Greek Orthodox Church, Mattituck, NY
1995 Apokathilosi, Christ, Baptist, Panagia, Archangels,
Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church, Middletown, NY
1997 Apostles, St. Barbara, St. Irene, Koimisis Tis Theotokou Greek Orthodox Church, Brooklyn, NY
2002 Mosaic Holy Trinity, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, Bridgeport, CT
2008 Holy Mother, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, Bridgeport, CT
Four Angels, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, Bridgeport, CT
Christ, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, Bridgeport, CT
2009 Hand Lettering and Gilding, St. Francis Xavier, New York, NY
2010 Medallions, Holy Cross Church, New York, NY
2011 Restoration, Elim Fellowship, Brooklyn, NY
2012 Restoration, Harvest On Hudson, Hastings on Hudson, NY
2013 Art directed and designed St. Dumitru chapel, Mount Hope, NY; executed all the ecclesiastic artwork for the chapel.
2014 – Restoration of various paintings, including Elizabeth Seton, Sisters of Charity, Bronx, NY
2014 Decorative motive, Chapel in Seton Hall University, NJ
2015 Designed and staged Jarecki home, Nantucket, MA
2015 Faux finished Dobkin home, Pound Ridge, NY and NY, NY
2016 Art and design direction, original artwork, restoration, Faux finish Hotel Syracuse/Downtown Marriot, Syracuse, NY.

GROUP EXHIBITIONS
1995 Seraphim, Cork Gallery, Lincoln Center, NY
2001 RiverArts Studio Tour, Dobbs Ferry, NY
2002 Pneuma I, Cambridge Art Association, Cambridge, MA. Juror: Lisa Dennison, Deputy Director and Chief Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY, NY
2004 The Hellenic Festival, New York Public Library
2011 EverGreene, The Artists & Their Art, Old School, New York, NY

SOLO EXHIBITIONS
2003 Excessive Series, Donald Gallery, Dobbs Ferry, NY

LECTURES
2004 New York Public Library – Mid-Manhattan
2005 New York Public Library – Mid-Manhattan
2016 Strathmore Speaker Series, Syracuse, NY

http://byzantiumarts.com

http://katerinaspilio.com

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