16 Nov Conversation with Kat Alyst | Be bold, be authentic
Based between the vibrant cities of Los Angeles, Austin and New York, Kat Alyst, emerges as an artist who employs photography to intricately weave personal narratives that explore identity and evoke profound vulnerability. In this exclusive interview, we embark on a journey into her art practice, motivations, and insights as a distinguished finalist at the 17th edition of Arte Laguna Prize in 2023.
Can you tell us about the artwork you exhibited at the Arte Laguna Prize?
I showed a very meaningful piece from my self-portrait series titled “Fish Out of Water” (2022). In this composition, a woman lays over a bed covered in a silky blue linen. Her face is concealed beneath a fish, while the objects scattered around her, serve as metaphors for pollution and submersion, as if she’s drowning in her own life choices. Although it is a self-portrait, I embody a memory and employ everyday objects to construct environments that convey complex emotions. For instance, the ashtray symbolizes inactivity, and the fish carries profound religious connotations. This piece reflects my personal experiences and struggles with someone close to me and emphasizes the importance of open discussions about mental health without stigma.
How did it feel to come to Venice and see your work exhibited at the Arsenale Nord?
Words fail to capture the overwhelming emotions of sharing my work and message on such a grand scale, particularly in Venice, alongside so many talented international artists. It was an amazing opportunity to be seen in a world stage.
What motivated you to enter the Arte Laguna Prize competition, and can you share your application process?
I have always been drawn to Italy, with its rich culture, art, fashion and food! (laughs). The moment I found out about the competition through Instagram and realized that it was held in Venice, I did not hesitate to apply. I submitted five pieces from my self-portrait series “Someone is Trying to Tell You Something,” which included “Fish Out of Water,” to the Photography category.
The application process was straightforward, with easy-to-follow steps. What stood out was the feature of creating an artist profile on the Arte Laguna World website, which ensured my work would appear in online searches, whether accepted as a finalist or not. Giving free exposure to artists in a digital world is particularly valuable. Receiving the news of being selected as a finalist was a pivotal moment, marking the beginning of a once in a lifetime experience!
Were there any challenges you encountered in preparing for the competition, and how did you overcome them?
The prospect of shipping artwork internationally initially seemed daunting. However, Sara Tortato, the Director of Arte Laguna Prize, helped me with an alternative solution and introduced me to Stefano, a local printer, who not only produced my work but also facilitated its transportation to the Arsenale Nord, for which I’m immensely grateful.
Can you share any memorable connections you made during the competition and how they have influenced your artistic career?
Participating in this competition has opened doors to meaningful connections and life-long friendships. Some notable ones include Laura Gallon, the Founder of Arte Laguna Prize, who together with her team, bring the exhibition to life. Artists like Tim van den Oudenhoven, Katya Tishkevich, Ale Rambar and Jayesh Sharma, left a lasting impact on me with their work and friendship. Jayesh, who is also a photographer, helped me film behind the scenes for my own promotional purposes and shared upcoming projects with me. The mutual support and willingness to help one another within this group of people is truly extraordinary.
I have drawn boundless inspiration from the diverse artworks and their compelling concepts, which continue to energize my own creative work. The exhibition offered a safe space for artists to express themselves, share their messages without fear, and create a sense of unity among humankind—a profound feeling of love and support for one another.
What advice do you have for artists considering entering the Arte Laguna Prize competition in the future?
Be bold, be authentic. Submit your most genuine and innovative work. The competition offers an experience that transcends the prizes it offers, —it is an opportunity to connect with the unique community and experience of Arte Laguna Prize. Just go for it!
Kat Alyst has participated in numerous exhibitions at Art Basel Spectrum Art Fair in Miami, Shockboxx Gallery in Los Angeles, and TRYST with The Torrance Art Museum, to name a few to name a few. Her work has been featured in various publications, including; New York Weekly, LA Weekly, Art Week, V Magazine, ARTSY, Vogue (Photo Vogue), and more.
You can find a selection of her works to purchase the Arte Laguna World website