Exposed plumbing is to the artist what brushed steel is to the young professional; it conveys the same kind of disorder and acceptance of said that enables the former to differentiate him or herself from the latter with some minimal degree of comfort. Katy Hirschfeld’s studio is replete with painted over pipes, plywood, brick and the like — which I won’t pretend to be anything other than fond of. The artist’s studio is, after all, the equivalent of the YoPro’s office. So when I saw and felt that hers is in a building which boasts no elevator, A/C or central heating, you can bet I was comfortable reveling in these minimal degrees of discomfort.
Pump Project Art Complex, where this studio is located, has all the quintessential elements of an environment where an artist is both invited and welcomed to thrive, but not without paying their dues. It is a minimalist work space, the lessness of which I could do with seeing more of. My first time visiting it was last November during the East Austin Studio Tour, where Ms. Hirschfeld’s art was featured. Her medium is that of mixed media, one that — like so many others in the realm of visual art — I can appreciate greatly in spite of knowing very little about. Imperial Eloquence’s most recent collaborative endeavor is a series of high quality beanies screen printed with select pieces of Katy’s work.
I am here in a journalistic capacity, so as to document a sort of behind the scenes preview for what is to come from Ms. Hirschfeld and IE; and will freely admit that my ego is just a tad swollen for having been granted the opportunity to do so. See, I have loved art and fashion equally for some time now. They finish very close behind writing and motorcycles in the running for things to which I lend authentic passion and personal ardor. It doesn’t hurt, either, that Katy is a friend of mine whose work I wish one day to see garner international acclaim, nor that the shoot currently taking place is featuring two very attractive models of color, who are sporting a) beanies, b) Ruanas (a kind of South American take on the Poncho), and c) precious little else.
Photo shoots can be a damn good time — noted emphasis on can — in my experience. This evening’s succeeds in being so, primarily because we’re all of us just hanging out in this cold ass studio with not much to keep us warm but laughter and each other’s company. After stripping down and assuming the first pose, the male talent begins by asking his female counterpart “Wait, what is your name again?”. Both are being asked to convey intimacy and sexuality having never met before, which most of us know is a prodigiously difficult feat to accomplish (especially on camera). The photographer, one J. Mos, is young and likable and visibly hardworking. He seems to be aware of what many up and comers in his field are not: that the photographer’s job is to capture beauty, not define it.
Interviewing Ms. Hirschfeld is casual and organic; it takes less to walk her through than I think either of us would’ve expected. She’s just shy of timid in her answers such that I know my questions are being met with the unpreparedness of an artist who has yet to recognize that she is truly great. Katy’s demeanor makes the difference between self-deprecation and self-pity ostensible in a way that’s poetic. She is from New Jersey — a fact which I only recalled after hearing her classic Northeastern butchering of the word “orange” — normally this would invite a slew of judgment, but I refrain from that as an attempt at professionalism, and out of genuine respect for her talent.
Sharing a studio is a lot like sharing a bathroom in that other people are going to see your shit. Hirschfeld is in the middle of telling me about her grappling with a recent piece, and how she feels she ruined it by trying to improve it (a feeling I am all too well acquainted with), when I ask if she is a perfectionist…to which she replies “anything but”. Apparently, her work — characterized by retro-chic images sublimated and superimposed by digital means — has been defined since the beginning by deliberate imprecision and stylistic experimentation, an example I think many artists would benefit from following in these early stages of self-improvement and actualization.
My favorite of the beanies depicts a woman smoking, which happens to be counted among my favorite visions in this world, as well as one that comes up frequently in Katy’s work. When asked why this concept reoccurs with such regularity, Hirschfeld answers simply by saying “I just think it’s sexy.” That response, not unlike her studio, says a lot about the woman and her work. And really, who the fuck am I to deny the beauty in brevity? There is an eloquence to it which I find, well, you know.
To see more of Katy Hirschfeld’s work, visit her website:
For upcoming news on and collaborations by Imperial Eloquence, visit ours: