This week’s cover artist, Katherine McMahon, moved to East Hampton in January. “I moved to the Hamptons for a painting residency at Elaine de Kooning House, which is a place I have drawn a tremendous amount of inspiration from,” McMahon, the Creative Director at ARTNews magazine, says.
What was the inspiration for this piece?
My inspiration for “The Dinner Table 2018” was drawn from the bounty of fresh seafood, produce and wine we’re so lucky to have access to on the East End. I’m also very inspired by my aunt, Patricia McGrath, who owns Coastal Home in Bridgehampton and Coastal Cottage on Shelter Island. To me, the colors and relaxed vibe at her store embody the spirit of living and entertaining in the Hamptons.
Is there a particular place on the East End where you find inspiration?
I frequently take walks on Sammy’s Beach to clear my mind. I also love the access to so many rich historic sites, such as the Pollock-Krasner House and Green River Cemetery.
How does your photography work inform your painting?
I had aspirations to paint from a young age, and didn’t get involved in photography until my early twenties. It’s since become a big part of my life. It’s been a huge privilege photographing many of my favorite artists and heroes for ARTnews magazine. Most of my painting has involved portraiture as well. With both mediums, I enjoy spending time with my subject and trying to find how to capture them in a truthful way.
As someone so engaged in the art world, can you speak to the importance of art and artistic expression?
I think artistic expression has no limits and has enormous potential in pushing humanity forward through self-examination and outwardly observing and questioning the world in which we live. Great art is subjective and hard to define, but in its many forms, it enriches our lives, stimulates conversation and sometimes provides us with awe-inspiring moments that connect us.
Do you have any advice for an aspiring artist?
I don’t know if I’m in a position to dole out advice, but I don’t think there’s one clear-cut path to success. In my mind, success comes from finding the right balance between one’s personal and professional life. Professionally, I think if you remain open-minded and work hard, the results are usually positive.
If you could sit down to coffee with any artist from history, who would it be and what would you talk about?
I would like to have a coffee with Marcel Duchamp and ask him to teach me how to play chess.
Where can our readers see more of your work?
Some samples of my photography and painting can be found on my website katherinemcmahonart.com. In October, I’ll participate in PLAY/GROUND, a series of immersive art environments located in a former school house in Medina, NY, curated by Resource:Art. More information about that is available at artplaygroundny.com.