Kate Kretz, Art World Truth #7 (detail), 2010, embroidery on used studio overalls

“For a century, there have usually been two versions of each art, one real, but poor and underground, and one fake, although rich and conspicuous. The latter ingests the former as needed.” - Donald Judd, on why there are so few masterpieces

Everyone loves a David and Goliath story. We relish tales of seemingly weak protagonists killing stronger, evil giants through ingenuity, tenacity, or a combination thereof. It is thrilling to see justice served, unexpectedly and against all odds. While this biblical underdog story is timeless, it seems particularly resonant these days, as the rich get richer, corporations become untouchable…


This is the time of year when students and their parents are trying to make decisions about which college will be the best fit for them. Yet few people know that institutions of higher education have been undergoing dramatic changes over the past few decades that have altered the basic structure of how they operate.

Universities used to be run by academics, altruistic believers in the power of education with first-hand experience in meeting the needs of students. As colleges devolved to adopt the corporate model, they added more levels of highly-paid administrators, brought on board to run the university…


Note: This is a paper that was originally delivered at the 2021 College Art Association Conference, as part of the panel “Upending the Gallery-Centric Model of the BFA Thesis,” and covers one of the topics explored in a book I am currently writing on finding visual voice. The video version of this paper is here.

As usual, it was money that ruined everything. In the 1987 film “Wall Street”, fictional character Gordon Gecko argued that, contrary to our antiquated notions of virtues and vices, that “greed…for lack of a better word… is good.” His phrase defined the beginning of a…


I suspect many of us are maintaining an emotional dam this week, trying to hold it together to work, or parent, as our country is falling apart. This morning, my dam was shattered by this story of a waitress in Florida who intervened to save a child’s life. She suspected a boy in her restaurant was being abused, based on her observation of his bruised face and body, his disturbing thinness, and the way he was treated by his parents, who refused him food while the rest of the family ate.

The waitress surreptitiously flashed the boy a note, asking…


“The Predator Is Plain To Those Who Were Once Prey” (2017), Prismacolor pencil on black Arches Cover, 12 x 9". by Kate Kretz, from the “#bullyculture” series

Finally… after years of volatility, lies, and quintessential gaslighting, we’re able to leave this torturous, abusive relationship.

For so long now, we’ve been kept off-balance, living in fear of his next wildly unpredictable act. Who will the bully pick on today? Which institution will he dismantle? What abhorrent behavior will he normalize? His constant lowering of the bar has left us dissociated, unable to be shocked by anything he does.

Four long years of almost daily trauma has worn us down. We’re disoriented from the endless chaos and deception. Sometimes, when we were awash in it, before we formulated a…


The other day, my friend posed a formidable, soul searching question on social media. It was the kind of query that stops you in your tracks, as you recognize immediately that the response will reveal a valuable, fundamental life truth.

“What do you wish someone would say to you?” he asked.

Your answer, of course, pinpoints exactly what you’re lacking and genuinely need at this moment. It didn’t take me long to formulate my answer.

I wish someone would say, “I SEE you. I see how hard you work, every single day. I see how many things you are trying…


We were on the cusp of a true apocalypse, with nothing left to lose. At the time, our proposal seemed extreme, but if we’d waited even a few more years to act, it would have been too late. At that moment, most cities were either flooding, burning, or chemically poisoned. Thousands of species had been rendered extinct by deforestation and climate change. We suffered from a constant collective anxiety. With impulsive, volatile leaders, new wars or oppressive policies could emerge without notice. We sent our children to school under a cloud of dread, due to the daily mass shootings.

Unscrupulous…


Kate Kretz, “Free Market”, 2019

We are witnessing what feels like the end of times, and it’s every bit as horrific as we had imagined. An entire continent is on fire: half a billion animals are dead, with human families cowering in the water to avoid being similarly consumed by flames. The images on our screens are haunting: it is hard to refrain from imagining terrified koalas and kangaroos, desperately seeking a way out of the dense smoke as flames spread, with their hearts pounding as it becomes harder and harder to breathe.

We are at the fire and flood stage… even sooner than predicted…


(Warning: This article contains imagery that is not suitable for children and may be triggering for victims of sexual assault. I write this in the few days preceding my solo popup exhibition in San Francisco, which will contain a plethora of “difficult work”.)

“I don’t want to produce a work of art that the public can sit and suck aesthetically… I want to give them a blow in the small of the back, to scorch their indifference, to startle them out of their complacency.” — Ingmar Bergman

I loved finding this serendipitous quote a few years back, when my work…


A Cautionary Tale on Art, Censorship & Social Media

I’m one of those artists who’s been plugging away in the studio for the past thirty years. Part of the Art World’s middle tier, I am perpetually hovering on the edge of my “big break”, but I no longer hold my breath in wait for it. I have work in a few important collections, and a 25-page CV. I’ve won Arts Council grants in all the states I’ve lived in, I have a few nice exhibition catalogs, and have been in museum shows across the country and abroad. …

Kate Kretz

Artist / Speaker / Professor perfecting The Beautiful Gut Punch. Obsessively made, timely, truth-telling work, in paint, thread, hair, & heat. www.katekretz.com

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