A knotted red rope against a background of hill and sky.

Jennifer Kabat

Arts Professional
Artist in Residence, 2016

A portrait of a person in an alleyway lined with brick buildings.

Artist Statement

Living in the Catskills, I have dual communities, one of laborers and loggers and farmers—more blue-collar than bucolic, as well as the art world. Both inform my writing. My essay “The Rainmaker’s Flood” explores the nature of snow and ice, Johannes Kepler, war, water, and weather modification and is set in my village. Grounded in specific landscapes, it developed from collaborating with the artist Kate Newby. So did my essay “The Place of the Bridge” for Arnolfini in Bristol UK. An essay-as-ghost story, it explores Brutalism and feminism as well as place. Artists like Newby as well as Rochelle Feinstein, Marlene McCarty, and Michelle Grabner profoundly shape my work. In the Catskills, land of the Hudson River School, Thomas Cole is also my inheritance. He is ever-present as I grapple with the ghosts of history, art, and culture today.

While At Headlands

At Headlands I will work on my book GROWING UP MODERN. A series of linked essays, it explores art, ideology, and the landscape from the modernist suburb where I grew up to where I live now in rural upstate New York. The book begins with the Cold War and modernism in my parents’ subdivision outside Washington, DC and includes explorations of drones and the American landscape tradition as well as war, water, and weather modification in the Catskills. Most poignant for me in the project is grappling with my own lingering modernism. With an elderly mother who still lives in the community where I grew up, I want to understand how the ethos of that place shapes my work and worldview. I also want to reclaim, in part, those values. The book will look at how history haunts place to search for meaning in this moment.

Select Audio Project

“The Rainmaker’s Flood” audio-walk, part of the January February March with Kate Newby and Anna Moschovakis, February 2015.