Artist Kathleen Engstrom Pulls Her Art from the Streets

Best of Phoenix hit newsstands Sept. 26. In conjunction with this year's Vintage Phoenix theme, New Times is collaborating with R. Pela Contemporary Art to present "Hot Plate!" It's an exhibition of one-of-a-kind, Phoenix-inspired commemorative plates made by local artists. Leading up to the show's Oct. 4 opening, we're profiling each of the contributing artists and visiting their studios. Today: Kathleen Engstrom.

Artist Kathleen Engstrom likes taking her art from the streets. While walking her dog, Engstrom will pick up little pieces of such discarded items as metal scraps or glass shards that, she says, retain the energy of society but need a discerning eye to bring out the beauty.

Though Engstrom pulls from the outside world to create her sculptures, she says that when she looks around her studio, she realizes that she has created a personal diary of sorts with her art.

See also: Hot Plate! Best of Phoenix Commemorative Collaboration Opens Oct. 4 at R. Pela Gallery

Engstrom's art usually stems from an emotional reaction she has to either the materials with which she is working or what is happening around her. She says that by allowing her work to show her vulnerable side, she hopes others will be able to find pieces of themselves as well.

What's your earliest memory of Phoenix? In 1998, we arrived by plane on our first visit to Phoenix. We rented a car at the airport and had just entered Highway 60, heading to Apache Junction to visit relatives. Out of nowhere a police car pulled up close and tight on our rear bumper. We moved over to the right thinking he wanted to pass. When the officer pulled alongside us, we realized he was screaming... "Get the Fuck Outta Here!!" What inspired your plate for this show? The border, cowboys, state history, guns.... and Arizona's unending, insatiable beauty.

Phoenix needs more: Respect for Culture and Diversity, Walkable Communities, Support for the Arts, I would love to see a 1% for the Arts program, more full time residents buying property, fewer tear downs....People using Crosswalks, Homeless shelters - especially for people with children or pets or both.

Phoenix needs less: Investor owned residential homes, Shopping Malls, Guns, and Golf Courses..

What's on your plate this fall? Studio, studio, studio......We always have projects with deadlines approaching, When fall arrives, we can finally work outside with more space and renewed energy. Kicking off the season with Hot Plate @ R. Pela is just the lift and inspiration I need. Who knows, I might even adopt a puppy.

See Engstrom's work when "Hot Plate!" opens October 4 at R. Pela Contemporary Art.

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