Volume 16, Issue 31 - July 31 - August 6, 2008

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Proving Her Metal

Kate Costello emerges on the Capital art scene

by Diana Beechener

Kate Costello’s latest creation is cooling on a wire rack in her mother’s kitchen. The 25-year-old artist typically works with steel, mixed metal, oils and acrylics. Today, she takes a break to fan zucchini bread.

Annapolis artist Kate Costello, left, used found spoons to mirror the light catching water droplets in her early sculpture Cascade, above.

“The garage is my welding studio right now, God bless my parents,” says Costello, who journeys from her Eastport home to their Cape St. Claire house to work at her welding table.

Her award-winning sculpture, Pores, sits on a side table. The steel base mimics the layers of skin, with squares of copper welded to the top, representing the epidermis. Viewed from the top, the work resembles skin pores; from the side, the sculpture looks like an abstract excerpt from an anatomy textbook. Costello’s dermal deconstruction earned her Annapolis’ First Sunday Art Fest’s emerging artist award.

Costello’s sculptures also document her evolution from biology student to artist. Once Costello switched majors at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, her medium came to her with a crash.

“I was walking past the sculpture studio, and in this back room I could hear these horrible noises,” Costello says.

Costello followed her curiosity to “a petite woman ripping steel. It was awesome,” she says, “and it was terrifying. It took me a long time to learn how to do it, but man, I love it now. I just love getting down and dirty.”

One of Costello’s first welded pieces, Cascade, used dozens of spoons acquired from thrift shops and poorly watched dining halls. Costello soldered the spoon heads onto a flowing frame, mirroring the light as it catches water droplets.

Costello says she loves working with “anything tactile. I’m absolutely terrible with watercolors and ephemeral mediums. I need something that I can hold on to: lumpy paints, cold steel, dirty stuff.”

After a stint as an aerial photographer, Costello returned to a vastly changed Annapolis.

“Annapolis had a place in my heart as not being a tourist town, but a sleepy little port,” says the artist. “It’s not that anymore, but it would be nice for everyone who cares about it, to have a hand in its future.”

This Sunday, Costello puts a hand to her city’s future by filling a tent with her art at Annapolis’ monthly First Sunday Arts Festival. There you can buy a piece from Annapolis’ newly crowned emerging artist or chance winning her latest work, a smooth, twisting, steel sculpture titled Melody — named for the musical note shadows it casts under overhead lighting — at a $2-a-ticket raffle.

Though her inspirations are rooted in biology, Costello doesn’t believe art interpretation is an exact science.

“I’m not one of those people that says this is what it means,” Costello says of her work. “I just like to make something that I feel really good about, and if people like it, then that’s awesome. If they buy it, they can do anything that they want with it.”

See for yourself at Annapolis’ First Sunday Art Fest’s August 3 or at www.spoonery.com

© COPYRIGHT 2008 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.