Kate Kretz: Visceral, Visual, Vulnerable

Any woman who continues to make art while attending to the tasks of motherhood is a hero of epic proportions.

Before I gave birth, I was making really personal work, practicing radical vulnerability as defiant act. I was way out there, on the trapeze without a net, holding nothing back. I subsequently learned that I didn’t know what the hell I was talking about: I had only been scratching the surface. All of that was NOTHING compared to the vulnerability of suddenly having your heart walking around outside of your body. The first time I saw her wiggling on the sonogram, I had the sensation of having lived in a pitch-black room all of my life, and opening the door to a light so bright that I felt certain it would kill me.

Motherhood pushes your body to its visceral limits. It connects you to the earth, gives a newfound understanding of the circle of life, death and other living beings, and provides access to superhuman reserves of courage, empathy, and endurance. It turns up the volume, intensifying everything, and this heightened awareness gives you the capacity to be a much MORE powerful artist than you ever were before. This work reflects my initial response to motherhood, but what is happening right now in the studio is an even stronger reaction to this new identity. Being a mother didn’t domesticate me, it made me more raw and fearless. As any Mom knows, you will kill for your children: the things I am making in the studio right now reflect the urgency of that instinct, channeled into making work that attempts to save the world she will occupy. Having a strong stake in the future of our planet and country has put my work in service of speaking truth to power, with unprecedented fervor and intensity.

Any woman who continues to make art while attending to the tasks of motherhood is a hero of epic proportions. Everything is already set up to marginalize women in the art world… add a child to the mix, and staying in the game becomes a superhuman feat. It’s time that curators, critics, and collectors recognize the vast, untapped potential of art that represents one of our most powerful and essential experiences as human beings.


Kate Kretz’s work has been featured repeatedly in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Esquire, Vanity Fair Italy, ELLE Japon, and elsewhere. Her controversial painting, “Blessed Art Thou,” was covered by hundreds of international news sources, and continues to be published in magazines and university textbooks worldwide.

She exhibits internationally and at www.katekretz.com.