Podcast: Katie Garth’s prints have plausible deniability

The formerly Madison-based artist returns for a show at the Common Wealth Gallery October 9 through 13.

The formerly Madison-based artist returns for a show at the Common Wealth Gallery October 9 through 13.


The center spread in

The center spread in “Exit Door,” a book included in Katie Garth’s new show.

Artist and designer Katie Garth made numerous contributions to the art community in Madison before relocating to Washington, DC last year. During her time in Madison, Garth was one of the organizers behind local printmaking collective Polka! Press, organized group art shows in town, worked as a designer for Planet Propaganda, and showed a lot of her own work.

Rooted in the printmaking process but pulling in a lot of different approaches, her artwork is both crisp and abstract. Garth has a designer’s eye for sharp colors and composition, but there’s always an element there that finds a subtle and surprising way into the viewer’s emotions.

“Because the work does sit on that line between abstract and representational,” Garth says, “I kind of think of it in the sense of plausible deniability.”

Garth will be back in Madison later this month to share a brief show of new works. It’s titled No More Second Guessing, and it will be on view from October 9 to October 13 at the Common Wealth Gallery on the near east side. The show will consist of standalone print works and a book Garth created, Exit Door, that marries text with a series of intricate visual works. Garth says the title of the show came from an effort to confront anxiety and doubt in her own working process. See some more works from the show in the gallery below.

“In a moment of frustration, I put a sign on the back of my studio door that said ‘no second guessing’—just do the thing you sat down to do,” Garth says. As she puts it, the show explores “escapism and utopia and repetition and how we cope with these things, and for me a perfect vision is one in which you don’t have to second-guess.”

Ahead of the show, Garth spoke with Tone Madison contributor Phoebe Schlough about the thinking behind her new work and why she’s puzzled when people describe her art as happy. Give the conversation a listen here, or subscribe to the Tone Madison podcast on Apple Podcasts.

Garth also spoke with us in 2015 about her work with Polka! Press and in 2014 about the group art show Twenty-Three Sisters.

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