Kate VanVliet: Heirloom Machine artwork

Kate VanVliet: Heirloom Machine

Paradigm Gallery + Studio is pleased to present Heirloom Machine, a solo show of assembled sculptures and etchings by printmaker Kate VanVliet. Heirloom Machine will feature an expansion of VanVliet’s ongoing Fault Line series sculptures in conversation with her intaglio prints. In her debut solo with Paradigm, VanVliet explores the idea of becoming an heirloom machine, creating and collecting important small objects, while examining her role as an artist and mother. VanVliet plays with the idea of absurdity in ritual as she compares the meticulous repair of everyday objects like eggs to the historically unseen labor of women's work. By utilizing craft in the treatment of found objects, VanVliet creates a dialogue on what constitutes an heirloom and the significance of historical convention. Heirloom Machine will be on view on the second floor of the Paradigm Arts Building (12 N 3rd St) from November 3 through November 26, 2023, with a public opening reception on Friday, November 3 from 6:00-8:00 pm.

VanVliet’s process stems from her lifelong penchant for collecting discarded objects; reflecting on the classification of value, the passage of time, and the craft each object displays. Her particular interest in the leftovers of daily routine forms the foundation of her current body of work, constructed to pair disparate objects with one another, like wooden beams, steel rods, and mesh. The intentional assembly that fits her sculptures together comes from her discipline of printmaking. VanVliet curates her library of artifacts through her etchings, studying textures and composition while embracing the limited color palette dictated by the intaglio process, allowing the material to be the main focus. VanVliet will be unveiling a new collection of more than a dozen etchings that echo the surrealism of found objects with varying levels of sentimentality. These vignettes employ nostalgia to inspire a stream of references that flow throughout each work. Musicality in the compositions of the prints, as well as their display, allows visitors to see a greater narrative throughout the exhibition.

When sketching forms and testing ways of construction, VanVliet searches for functional objects that support the aesthetics of the whole structure, as shown in See the Sky About to Rain, featuring 115 Fault Line eggs counterweighted on a wooden beam with an etched brass ball. VanVliet resorts to traditional craft and coincidental convergences to position her materials together. VanVliet marries the deliberate nature and repeated action of printmaking with the spontaneity and chaos of found object assemblage. In her Fault Lines series, VanVliet uses eggs to catalog her days working as an artist and as a new mother. After the ritual of preparing breakfast for her family, VanVliet was struck by the image of broken eggshells piling up on her counter and read them as evidence of cultivation. VanVliet explains: “When I became a mother, I found myself in this ritualistic madness, each day repeating the day before and hoping for a different result. As the leftovers of those actions accumulated on my kitchen counter, I saw that my life had become an open edition of the same but different days.” After the usual day of working/caregiving, VanVliet takes advantage of the quiet hours when the family is asleep to meticulously clean, sanitize, match, and repair each egg with mica as if it were a precious piece of porcelain, bringing the ordinarily invisible labor of domestic work to light. Through Fault Lines, VanVliet embraces flaws and lived experience through visible mending over invisible repair. The value of her created heirlooms is derived from the skills she has acquired as an artist and from her experiences as a mother.

Opening during CraftNOW, a convergence of craft shows in Philadelphia, Heirloom Machine aims to broaden the definition of craft to a way of working as opposed to being a foil to fine art. VanVliet uses her “fine craft mentality” for storytelling and cataloging, but most importantly to say that an heirloom does not have to be a precious ring or a watch, it can come from the everyday.

Friday, November 3, 2023
6:00 – 8:00 PM

Thursdays • 10 AM – 6 PM
Fridays • 10 AM – 6 PM
Saturdays • 11 AM – 6 PM
Sundays • 11 AM – 5 PM
And 7 days a week by appointment.