Tea and Talk with the Talented Featuring Pam Kravetz
By Colette Finney
Based in Cincinnati, Ohio, nationally recognized artist Pam Kravetz often performs a crafty balancing act between teaching and creating. In addition to being a celebrated art educator, she’s an active member in the areas’ art community involved in many fund-raising projects, . Generating joy with her imaginative fiber art exhibitions, visitors to the Saugatuck Center for the Arts were recently treated to “Not My Monkeys, Not My Circus,” featuring an interactive cast of colorful marionettes, alongside the storytelling of quirky narrative quilts.
“Pam’s works have a wonderfully optimistic and whimsical quality. She includes the things and the people she loves, as well as the experiences that have made her who she is,” said Annie Bolling, owner of Annie Bolling Gallery in Cincinnati.
CF: What motivates you to create?
PK: My art making is compulsive, much like a visionary artist. It is a ‘have-to’ for me – I have to create. My family can always tell when I haven’t been making art. They tell me I am fidgety and not as happy! I am motivated by the stories that pop up and I want to illustrate with my art. And I am really motivated by deadlines. Nothing keeps me working harder that a deadline!
CF: Do you have a typical creative routine & if so, can you share it with us?
PK: I really wish I had a routine – that I used a sketch book, but I don’t. I make art all the time and then sometimes I don’t. When I am not physically creating, it is living in my head, sometimes for months. When I start to make art, get out of my way! I am like the Tasmanian Devil from the cartoon! I make a huge mess, I move from one thing to the next and from the outside it looks like there is not method to my art-making madness.
CF: What do you do for inspiration when you are in a creative slump?
PK: I have had slumps. Some have lasted years! It used to get scary – that I wouldn’t have any ideas and/or sometimes not have the need or desire. And then I think maybe I am not an artist or I am not able to. But because of teaching art, I am way more motivated by watching my students create. Sometimes my classroom demonstrations would last the entire time, and my cute 1st graders were chomping at the bit to start making and then the bell would ring. That’s when I knew I had to ‘make’ – that I was an artist. The strangest things inspire me – a conversation, an Instagram photo, a DEADLINE!
CF: What advice would you give to new artists?
PK: My best advice is to do what you love and keep doing it. Take classes from artists that inspire you. Put yourself out there, take chances. Go look at art, go to openings, ask advice, and then take part of it. Don’t stop, try a new media. Find something you need to say and find your voice – that can be hardest to do. Apply to shows, get rejected, apply again, and then to other shows. Find your people, trust them and work with them. Drink bourbon.
CF: What do you feel most proud of?
PK: In life, I am most proud of my son Max! He is amazing, cool, smart and wise beyond his years! My relationship with my family and friends, my husband Craig and his beautiful daughters all make me so happy and proud. In regards to my art, I am most proud of my first museum pieces: The Beauty Queen, The Super Hero and The Peanut. I am also proud that I am staying true to myself, my vision and my art.
CF: What’s something most people don’t know about you?
PK: I like order and routine, which when you look at my art and hear my artists’ talk, you would never guess that of me. Something else that would surprise people, is that I was the University of Cincinnati’s Bearcat Mascot for two years!
CF: What wouldn’t you do without?
PK: My family, friends, coffee and embroidery floss!
CF: What’s most integral to the work of an artist?
PK: Passion, strong work ethic, self-reflection and a stiff upper lip!
CF: What artist/writer have you been most influenced by?
PK: Suzy Shier taught me how to make narrative quilts and find my voice; Street artist JR, because of his passion in seeing the big picture and his community engagement; And the photography of Cindy Sherman, who inspires me to incorporate personas into my work.
CF: What was the most defining moment in your life that led you to this career?
PK: In kindergarten, I wasn’t very good at my ABCs, so my teacher let me use the easel every day to paint. She realized early on that I was an artist at heart! I also had an amazing teacher in high school who pushed me to create and go on to art school, which led to my parents understanding that I needed to go to art school and supporting me. And cheating on senior math and getting caught probably was a factor!
CF: What has been the most memorable response you have had about your work?
PK: That I was the most over-educated “outsider” artist they have ever seen, along with my mom saying my art is cheaper than therapy.
CF: What is your dream project?
PK: Creating a fun house of my art with each room a vignette and an interactive crazy town of art! And then showing it at MOMA!
CF: What makes your shows different from a painting exhibition for example?
PK: I love paintings and more traditional/time-honored art and exhibitions. But my work has taken a different direction, mine is interactive, in your face and not a spectator sport. My art comes to life, with you the viewer interacting with it.