meet KATHRYN Tubbs
I create acrylic paintings and mixed media drawings depicting the internal landscape of the human body. My artwork creates messages of hope, beauty, and positivity for survivors of injury and illness.
About Kathryn Tubbs
My artwork creates beauty from what is often considered grotesque. I depict human disease, injuries, wounds, scars, surgeries, and the body’s interior and microscopic matter.
While these depictions can be considered human portraits, I approach them as landscapes— a view inside the body without reference to the cavity which contains them. Without that visual ‘wall,’ the space of my art is at once compressed and infinite. The images are abstractions created from source material of medical science (X-rays, MRIs, scans, etc.). My exploration started in graduate school at CSU Long Beach, while my family was caring for a terminally ill child relative with cancer. Visually, the surprising colors of disease made a deep impression— whether from the side effects of chemotherapy or the colors of diagnostic medical imagery. That experience changed the way I interpreted the human body. Non-traditional color choices took my images from realism to abstraction and freed them from the emotions humans generally associate with disease and injury. This created a way to inject positivity into a somber subject matter.
I work to create messages of hope, beauty, and positivity in and through trauma. Having spent much of my adult life in competitive sports and with severe illnesses, I have my share of bodily scars and medical imagery to draw from. Years spent in the physical and emotional no-man’s-land of recovery from illness and injury inform the tension in my art. The images feature depictions of inflammation and bulging shapes, the stretching of certain parts against areas of compression, collapse, or dissolving; and always there is decay. All of this is filtered through my mind’s desire to create beauty. Making artwork has been a great tool for me when my body cannot physically do what I want it to. I inhabit a social network where everyone has at least one scar and a story to go along with it. Most of my artwork arises from commissions as individuals realize that through my art, they have a vehicle with which to celebrate their survival and perseverance, rather than something that glorifies the disturbing elements of their trauma. I attempt to create a type of souvenir for the viewer, not of geographic travel, but of the journey through disease and injury to recovery. I make mixed media prints and drawings and acrylic paintings. I also enjoy designing interiors and gardens and create the occasional piece of furniture and garden art.
Born in Cypress, CA, to a large and close-knit family, I attended Northwestern University in Evanston, IL for undergraduate, got my MFA in printmaking at CSU Long Beach, and afterwards studied Cultural Studies at Claremont Graduate School. I started my career teaching art at Whittier College, but quickly found I was happier in the business world. I have since worked in the financial services industry for over 20 years, all the while making art in my free time. For much of my adult life, I have also pursued adventure through adventure racing, trail running and prone paddleboarding. I currently live in El Segundo, CA and am fortunate to inhabit an original 1920’s Spanish style house that I have meticulously restored, including a small art studio. The community of El Segundo is a laid-back, eclectic, supportive, and friendly place to make art and live life close to friends, family, and the beach. Who knew my paradise would be found smack dab between an airport, a water treatment plant, and a refinery!