The way Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann tells it, while she has had a passion for art since childhood, both in this country and in Asia, it was only after she was well out of college that she found her direction with her work. With the help of a mentor at Maryland Institute College of Art, she came to realize that working as a graphic designer had hindered her approach to her visual art. Her use of long straight lines and compacted components, her teacher told her, was far too confining to be seen as serious abstract art.
Mann agreed, however painful it might have been hearing that critique, and from that point on, she decided to recreate the work more openly and explosively.
The first step for her was to begin each painting with a “pour,” an arbitrary application of color and form that opened her increasingly larger canvases to far more freedom and flow that now has become the signature style of the D.C.-based artist.
Those were the essential ingredients for her installation of “Waterfall,” which stands in cube form in the front of the Academy Art Museum for the next year. With the use of unique blue and green colors, Mann pays homage to stained glass that creates new impressions as day turns into night and from the outside to the inside of the cube.
Katherine talked to the Spy by Zoom last week about “Waterfall” and her desire for the museum’s visitors to make reservations to experience the work from within the cube at different times during the day.