Studio Art: Normalcy Bias

by Briauhnna A. Phelps

Kathryn Mueller ’11 has only been at APU for two years, but she has made the most of her time here. Mueller, who is an art major with a photography concentration and an art history minor, opened her senior gallery on February 8, 2011. The gallery, normalcy bias, featured 23 original works by Mueller. All were photographs taken on nondigital cameras. The show was a statement about the human being’s tendency to create his or her own version of reality, turning a blind eye on the actuality of the events happening around him/her.

Mueller’s photographs, which feature a combination of fancy and fright, invoked high emotion and curiosity in the guests who spent Tuesday evening perusing the Duke Art Gallery.

“It’s terrifyingly, creepily awesome,” said Peter Fornos ’12. “I especially love the dichotomy between the images that she mashed together to create one cohesive representation of what is going on in the finished product.”

Many people were curious about how Mueller creates her art, and she was glad to share her methods with her audience. “I start by taking the photos on a film camera,” said Mueller. “Then I take apart the negatives and splice them with different photos and stitch them back together with a needle and thread, and develop the images in the dark room.”

“It’s terrifyingly, creepily awesome.”

“I’ve always found the way she sews the negatives together to be quite interesting,” said Alex Nikmanesh ’11, a friend of Mueller’s. “Her pictures are very thought-provoking.”

Mueller’s three siblings and parents were there to support her on her big night. When asked, each family member stated that Mueller has been producing highly creative art since the age of two. “She called it her ‘work work’,” her father said. “She always had great balance, putting things together in such a unique way. Her cutting negatives and putting them back together is a continuation of that. I’ve never heard of anyone else in the art world who uses her technique. It’s unique, and it’s cool.”

Mueller’s “work work” is quickly turning into a promising career. From the show, she has sold four of her images, and the rest will remain open to purchase.

"This is one of the best photography galleries we’ve had open."

“We’re all very proud of Kate,” said Kent Butler, MFA, Mueller’s photography professor. “This is one of the best photography galleries we’ve had open. I told my classes that they all need to come see it.”

Mueller will graduate this May and plans to move to Pomona, where she will look for a job as a curator while furthering her own craft. Her ultimate goal is to join the Cole Bros. Circus and work on a series of photographs dealing with circus life.

To contact the artist about her photography or to purchase a print, email [email protected]