Artists in Action: Katie Trioisi

Posted by Carey Hall on

Troisi adding a new layer to her current work in progress

To say that Katie Troisi’s work is a tactile experience would an understatement. From the moment she begins a piece to those last final details, she is hands-on. She encourages her audience to participate, as well, saying, “My paintings are meant to be touched. The viewer cannot fully understand the piece without physically interacting with it.”

I sat down with the Atlanta-native in her home studio in Decatur to discuss her work, the process, the ever-evolving local art scene, and her connection to the film industry.


AAR: What or who has been the biggest inspiration for your art?

Katie Troisi (KT): Maybe this sounds a little weird, but myself. I’m not staring in a mirror and singing songs about myself to myself while I’m working or anything; I just mean that at this point in my own personal game of art, most of my inspiration comes from within myself. My work is based on memories, experiences, impulses, and, most importantly, emotions. Life is my biggest inspiration, specifically my life.

Some pieces of my life that sometimes stick out more than others include artists and teachers whose work I’ve formed strong connections to. Historically, Gerhard Richer and Eva Hesse. Personally, Summer Wheat (one of my painting professors) and Heather Greenway (local painter, friend, influencer).


AAR: Which three words would you use to describe your art?

KT: Deep, Flat, and Vibrant


AAR: What is the hardest part of the creative process for you?

KT: Starting a new piece. Finishing a piece. For me it’s about the process more than the final product. I like deadlines because they force me to begin work by a certain date and finish on time.




AAR: What is your favorite tool to use to create your art?
KT: Small glass squeegee.
AAR: Your work is very textured. When viewing your piece “The Twins,” which is currently on display at the Swan Coach House Gallery, I was encouraged to feel the piece. How does texture influence your work and what do you hope the audience will gain by feeling the piece?

KT: With these paintings, the goal is to reveal what’s underneath. I create highly textured pieces, in which the paint is built up over time; this process often takes weeks or months. Never using a brush and relying instead on palette knives, squeeze bottles, squeegees, and various pouring and dripping techniques, each layer of paint is applied and then allowed to dry. Subsequent layers are added and created, obscuring what existed before. Once I have sculpted the piece to where it is whole, I destroy it. The painting and all of its layers are stripped, eroded, and reduced to an equal plane. The technical details of this finishing process consist of sanding and polishing the piece to a perfectly smooth surface. The visual effect of this is that of a topographical map; an abstract two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional reality.

These paintings are also about people. Humans, being human. I create a piece whose true identity is hidden below the surface. All of the internal intricacies and secrets that were once hidden are revealed in union. I feel this concept reflects not only my personality, but all human beings and the way we interact with the world.


AAR: You work in a lot of different mediums, which one is your favorite and why?
KT: I first encountered clay when I was eight years old, and I fell in love with it. When I was about ten, I saved up all the money I got from Christmas and birthdays, and used it to pay for very small group children ceramics classes. I took all the ceramics classes in high school, and that’s what I decided to focus on in college*. So clay is my number one. I started doing these abstract painting when I graduated and didn’t have a way to work with clay anymore. There wasn’t a place for me to do. There wasn’t the money. There wasn’t a place for me to fire it. It wasn’t an option at the time and I needed something to do, something sculptural. So I started doing these paintings, where I build up layers and sand them down.



AAR: The local/independent art scene in Atlanta has really grown over the last decade. How do you feel Atlanta best supports local artists?

KT: I think it’s constantly changing in Atlanta, but coming out to shows. Maybe because I’m going to more shows, but I’m seeing more people. However, I’m also seeing the same people over and over and that’s a problem. We want to get people out that don’t normally go to shows. When I curated OCULARIS, there were people that showed up who had either never been to a show in Atlanta or had been to very, very few and it had been years, and they actually bought some of the work. So, I think it’s important to keep getting new people coming out to shows, instead of the same people. The support of just having bodies there is great, but we need more people to come out.

Deer Bear Wolf is a great organization. I’ve started working with them and I think it’s the DIY, I don’t want to say mentality, more of a concept. We’re doing this ourselves. We want to include all these different groups. We want to make everything accessible. We want to support everyone as much as we can. And not just visually. As far as venues goes, the rise in the DIY venue has made art more accessible to people who wouldn’t normally come out and see it. Although I want to show my work, I’m also very interested in curating. I’ve curated two shows with Mammal Gallery and I wouldn’t have had that opportunity if they didn’t exist.


AAR: What is your favorite gallery to visit in Atlanta and why?

KT: I have never been to a space I didn’t like. I love the Low Museum. I love Mint. I love Kibbee. I love Beep Beep. I love Mammal. Eyedrum is in transition, but I’ve been on the inside of that a little bit. There are so many and I guess all the ones I just listed off are the ones that are accessible to the local artists. They are the places that have group shows and invite people who live here.


AAR: A lot of galleries are multi-use spaces. Does having a multi-use space increase the people who come out to see the shows?

KT: At Mammal, the weekend that OCULARIS opened was also the weekend of the Atlanta Zine Fest. So people were downstairs, visiting the vendors, and we had a sign that read, “Come upstairs, check out the gallery.” We saw a huge flow of traffic that day. Then the weekend after that was the Mammal Gallery yard sale and we had open gallery hours during that, too. Having other events going on at these spaces really does make a difference. People see things they may not have seen if they weren’t cross-over spaces.


AAR: The film and television industry is its own art form. Have you ever been inspired by a film or television show?

KT: So these paintings behind me, were sourced from vintage nudes. I don’t know the names of the women or the photographers. I was probably watching Mad Men around then.



 Two pieces from Troisi's Vintage Nudes series


AAR: If your art were a film, which film would it be?

KT: I asked my friend Mike, since he’s the film buff. It didn’t take him long and it’s not one film. He said my work was, across the board, Antonioni. He started telling me these different movies I had watched. Specifically, Mike was thinking of Blow Up, which is something we watched together when we first started dating, ten years ago. I remember we watched it, but I don’t know if we finished it. I don’t really remember it, but I read a synopsis and I was like, “Yep! That’s it.” It’s about a photographer who thinks he sees a murder, and he has a photograph of it. He keeps punching it and punching it until all the detail is film grain and you don’t see anything. The original image is gone.


AAR: Do you have any connection to or experience with the film community here in Atlanta?

KT: I do have a strong connection to the Atlanta Film Scene, and film in general. For most of the past seven years, I’ve lived with film buffs and film grad students who have worked with MonsterBuster Entertainment on several projects. Recently, a close friend of mine co-founded a small local production company, Airlock Pictures, which currently focuses on small commercial and promotional work, as well as indie shorts and music videos. I have a lot of friends who have worked on large studio projects, including feature films, and variety of indie, low budgets, and no budget productions.

My own experience is limited; I’ve only occasionally helped on projects I happen to be close to. I also dabble in “non-narrative experimental time-based media,” which is essentially abstract video art.


AAR: How did you hear about Action Artwork Rental and why did you decide to sign up?

KT: A good friend worked on set with Joey last year and mentioned AAR to me sometime after. It was still a few months before I managed to reach out, but I’m glad I did.




AAR: What is on the horizon for Katie Troisi? Are you working on any exciting new projects?

KT: I’m doing a piece for the EngageMINT fundraiser for MINT Gallery, which is October 24, 2015. It’s an auction at Mammal Gallery. It will not be my typical style, because they gave us piece of poster board to work on.

There’s a show a holiday show at Swan House Gallery, Little Things Means A Lot, which opens November 12th and runs through January 8, 2016.

Additionally, I dropped off plates at Empire State South that they commissioned. I have three other shapes that I’ll be working on for them over the next few months. One of Empire’s things is they want as much locally sourced everything as possible.I used locally sourced clay and glaze. They’re not from a mold. They are all unique and individual and completely different. So, you can eat off of my art.




Beginnings of one of Troisi's pieces for Swan House Gallery


To see more from Katie Troisi, you can visit her website at or attend any one of her upcoming shows. We’ll leave you with these parting words from Katie on why she creates art, “I make art because I have to.  It's a huge part of who I am and when I have creative blocks I tend to get lost, or I have creative blocks when I'm already feeling lost.  It's a release but also a source of joy in my life. I like being able to experiment, to succeed, to fail, to grow and learn about myself and the world and the other.”

That’s a wrap!


*Troisi earned her BFA in Ceramics and Painting from Armstrong Atlantic State University

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