Tossing Lines: Katie Fogg a beacon in New London art scene
I’m a bit of a dreamer when it comes to old buildings and art, so I immediately felt the creative vibe in the exquisite architectural style of the 1912, five-story Dewart Building on State Street as I ascended to the third floor studio of New London artist Katie Fogg.
I’ve long wanted a glimpse of a New London artist’s world since I always envisioned the visual arts as the foundation and hope of the Whaling City’s downtown. After all, it’s common knowledge that arts are key to the allure of cities, attracting tourists, commerce and young professionals to live and work there.
Fogg’s high-ceilinged, two-room studio was airy, as intriguing and cluttered as I had imagined. Artwork was everywhere, a nearby table scattered with tubes, brushes, and colorful splatters that never found the canvas.
A miter saw reminded me that she has evolved into a multi-media artist since graduating from the prestigious Lyme Academy of Fine Arts in 2010. Her business card lists “Portraits, Plein Air, Abstract, Live Painting, Body Art.” But there’s more.
A table against dramatically tall, century-old windows holds a sewing machine, symbolizing Fogg’s love of fashion design. She recently produced a six-piece collection in avant-garde, vintage-modern form for Fashion in the Ballroom downtown. Though painting has been her focus, the return to fashion just “felt so right.”
I was soon immersed in a world of captivating creativity, curiosity and self-examination.
Fogg graduated from the New York Academy of Fine Arts in 2014 with a Master of Fine Arts degree, and spent a few years in the New York art scene, working as a teacher’s assistant at the academy and other odd jobs while she showed her works in various city venues.
“It was one of the best times of my life,” she said.
She taught art in after-school programs for city kids in Brooklyn and Harlem, before returning to New London, where she now works full-time as a senior case manager for the disabled.
During her New York years, Fogg created one of her trademark styles (it’s literally trademarked): “Tracisum.” Pronounced Trace-izum, it’s actually “music art” spelled backwards, a freewheeling art form wherein music encourages subconscious expression.
“I basically dance with my arms and hands,” Fogg said. Her go-to musical styles have changed over the years, from fast-rhythm electronic music to melodic compositions and jazz, corresponding with her state of mind, more calm these days.
The results are complex, intense and intriguing. A combination of mysterious lines, expressive color and artistic flow, tracisum, like abstract, invites individual interpretation. I found them magical.
Tracism emerged when Fogg turned from looking outward to looking inward, and discovered a way to intimately illustrate her life through emotion, and introspection. It’s a path of exploration on her spiritual journey.
“It’s my cry, but it’s not a sad cry today,” she said.
Fogg has shared her gift through local art classes and enjoys painting en plein air, a chance to interact with the public, as in her well-received New London Streetscapes series.
She exhibits wherever she can connect with people, even painting bodies in the Hygienic’s Naked Canvas shows, and recently took part in Portraits for Humanity — Safe Futures, donating the proceeds in order to give back to the community, something Fogg feels strongly about.
New London holds a special place in her heart but she recognizes it’s time to expand her audience.
A show for contemporary Connecticut artists in Farmington brought rave reviews, as did a recent multi-media show in Dallas, Texas.
The Mystic Art Show is on her radar for the first time, for which she envisions a Mystic streetscape series, much like her New London project.
Fogg calls art her “journey to enlightenment,” and emphasizes that “We are all part of the same community. We’re all in this together. We are one.”
Artistic survival in New London is not easy, but Fogg feels her moment is near.
“This is my time, but with all the energy I put into my job, I have yet to put full energy into myself, and my work, and get it out there,” she said.
Michael Lech, of Brighton Way Gallery in Farmington, said of Fogg: “Katie is extremely talented, a true artistic force. She exemplifies the mission of Brighton Way, and we are proud to host her works. One quickly sees your own story woven deep in Katie’s rich narrative of texture, color and theme.”
Urban planners say that to find downtown success, “follow the drips of paint.”
That evening with Katie Fogg, I found the creative foundation and hope of the city’s downtown, and sensed it was time for her day on the national stage.
For more information, visit katiefogg.com.
John Steward lives in Waterford and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.johnsteward.online.