Wednesday, March 26, 2014


What is your name? 

 Holly Combs

Where do you live?

Indianapolis, Indiana

When did you realize that you wanted to be an artist?

I always believed I was born an artist. My dad would say, “Holly, you're a piece of work!”. 

Inspiration: Pink - Jack Black - Eminem - 
I always wanted to have my own band.  I sing. 
I played violin for 10+ years.

They don't know it yet - But I will be speaking at TedX next year.  just wanted to give heads up.

When did you become a mother?

I became a mother on July 21st, 2003 (on my dad's birthday)

What are your challenges as a mother

Feeling divided is my biggest challenge. I deal with guilt on a daily basis, wanting to give my kids all of me, while balancing my commitment to show them that being an artist is a way of life and a way to make a living. Whether they become artists or not, I need them to know it's more than possible to live their calling with their whole heart. 
Having such a strained relationship with my mother created fear of ever being a mom. She didn't balance it well. So not seeing it live made me question if it was possible.My house is always in some state of chaos and mayhem. I don't mean that in the way others say it. My house needs caution tape.Laundry.Not caring for my own health.

What has been the driving force behind keeping a balance between being a mother artist?

I believe life is an artform. I believe being a mom is an artform. And I believe God gave me gifts that I must use for His glory. Mastering a skill is an intense motivation for me. Mastery turns me on.

Do you have a studio? 
Where is it?

My studio is in my mind. It's the only place that's really mine.

When do you spend time making art?

Any quiet moment that is available. Noise, visually and audibly - is my kryptonite. Every empty wall inspires a work of art. Every hurting person with need inspires my creativity for expressing words of hope.

What is your favorite medium?

I practice the art of inspiration and people are my canvas.

 How many children do you have?

Two by birth, and thousands by calling.

 Have you ever considered giving up being an artist in order to be a mother?

The moment my daughter was born, I made my family my art. I don't see it as giving up. I've made my marriage and being a mom an art form. I just see it as the ability to make connections at the right time for the overall good of our family's wellbeing.

What is your advice for a new artist mom?

Breathe. Slowly.
You don't and never will have all the answers.
Immerse yourself in a group of women that you can be totally honest with.
Drink water.
Have grace for yourself.
Don't be afraid to question everything you thought you knew.
Don't have ideals for ideals' sake.
Talk to Jesus every day. He's the giver of Peace that surpasses all understanding.
Ask for help.

 Do you have support from family and friends while making art?

My husband is the best. He respects me as an artist after many years of competing unbeknownst to me, we now work together and respect each other. My BF, Laura, is everything I'm not. It's hard to talk about her because I'm amazed by her gifts and her willingness to serve me with them. I could go on and on, but then I would start crying and I wouldn't finish the rest of the questions. My in-laws have grown to a place of unconditional love for me. There is nothing they wouldn't do to support me as a mom, a wife, and an artist.

Do you feel like you are taken seriously as a mother artist?

Yes. I feel like over the past 13 years I have received an immeasurable amount of support from all the art nonprofits in our city, from the art community, and from individuals.

Do you think mother artists are taken seriously in society?

My stance on this is that you will be taken as seriously as you are. I've not had a person that's met me that has not taken me seriously. I think there are a lot of females who carry unreasonable ideals that don't allow them the freedom available to fully discover their potential. For example, they think people won't take them seriously, so people don't take them seriously. I'm a baller, and I roll with a lot of beautiful, strong, bold artist mom ballers.

What do you say when someone asks you “what does your husband do for a living?”?

I tell them, “My husband is an artist. He blows minds with his amazing artistic skills.” 

What advice can you give to other artist moms about pursuing their passions regardless of their situation?

I would say, “You are called to a bigger purpose. You're the only person who can say what you need to say how you're going to say it. You have a responsibility to serve the greater good of this world with your gift using your voice.”

What is your story?

-hearts flowers glitter unicorns - and tears.

My early life was defined mostly by things completely out of my control. But that’s childhood, right? I was born tiny—premature. A twin. I stayed tiny well into adulthood. My brother grew into a giant—he towers over me. I think I was made for a life of contradictions. There was a lot of fear and a lot of lies mixed in with a lot of 
laughter and a lot of grace. Some of it helped me grow. Some of it suffocated me.When I look back, I realize almost everything about who I am now, the kind of person I am, the kind of artist I am, is a product of learning how to survive with a mind that did not fit—not in that tiny body, not in my home with the walls that seemed to close in on me ever tighter and tighter, not in any classroom, where words and numbers were the only acceptable communication form. I was a foreigner in every land—a visitor from the land of Dyslexia. English is my second language. Pictures were my first. So many years were filled with things that threatened to suffocate my spirit. So many were just filled with 
things. Valueless material goods (not to be confused with priceless, please). Rules written in ignorance. 

Emotions expected to be stuffed down. I never had the chance to fly. There wasn’t enough room. That’s why I love negative space. Every empty wall inspires a work of art. Every hurting person with a need inspires my creativity for expressing words of hope. When I met and married my husband, I thought that would be freedom. He was this amazing, challenging man—thirteen years later, he still is. But I married him under false pretenses. I thought he was a moody, quirky artist. A rebel, complete with leather jacket and unpredictable actions. And all of that was kind of true, but all of 
it was kind of a sickness. That’s the trick of mental illness, or any long-term illness, I expect. It’s a part of you. Sometimes it makes you more you than ever—more of the worst of you. Sometimes it means more of the best. I carried my husband on my back for years thinking I was alone in the struggle. Wondering why he couldn’t see how the weight of him was slowly killing me. But it wasn’t his fault. He didn’t know. No one knew. Undiagnosed. Saddest word ever. So in those years there were a lot of highs and lows. The lows were knock-you-down-in-a-ditch-at-the-bottom-of-a-cliff low. The funny thing was that the highs were just as terrifying. I was always sitting on the edge of my seat, waiting to jump . . . or be pushed. But somewhere in the exhilarating, frightening mess, we made art together—and two beautiful children. And I started to grow. I’m not gonna lie. I didn’t do it well. Sometimes I took root in the wrong places. There were side trips down the road of adultery for both of us. It wasn’t just not pretty—it was scarring. I can show you them, if you ask. But we grew. He grew into an understanding of who he was and how to get control of the illness that too many times brought him to death’s door, with him willingly opening it to peek inside. And I realized that being unique 

didn’t mean I had to do it all on my own. We leaned. On God. On family. On friends. On each other. I thank God every day that my kids were too young to remember much about those years. But I also thank God every day that I do remember. And that maybe I can give them some of the wisdom and beauty that came out of the struggle. It’s remembering that gives me the strength and confidence to teach others now. Because I have scars, I can see the hurt in others more easily. And I don’t just let it go. Not anymore. Secrets are so overrated. Our stories are meant to be told. 
My story also includes two of the most amazing, marvelous children you could ever meet. It’s true. They have taught me how to truly love in ways I never thought possible. Like seriously—not possible. Who ever thought cleaning up poop in the bathtub or being faced with my phone dropped in a juice cup would be the way I’d learn how to love? But it happens. Every stinking day (well, not the poop anymore). My daughter, Seaira, is 10 and already is teaching others. She helps her dad with his art classes and helps students at school who are struggling. She loves her cat and is learning to sew, play guitar, and is taking a stab at acting. A lot of things come easy to her, but she tries not to use the B word (bored). Watch out, world. Seaira Skye is going to be whatever she chooses. And she’ll have all the support I can give her. Alden is a lover. He’s had a kind and compassionate heart since he was born and loves the unloved wherever he meets them. He is everything an 8-year-old boy should be—crazy, noisy, breaker of all that is not yet broken. He hates structure, yet he’ll sit for hours and build some of the most smart and thoughtful structures I’ve ever seen from a kid. He is his mama’s boy—at the age of 6 he started a sticker campaign to tell people “I love you.” I expect he’s going to have to fight to stay his soft-hearted self. He may have a hard go of it. Kindness shouldn’t be seen as a weakness, but it so often is. What’s wrong with us, world?So if you come to my house (warn me, first, please, so I can at least clear a path), you won’t see my paintings on the walls or sculptures on my shelves. That’s not the art I do, though I admire, even envy, it in other talented creatures. My art is people. I don’t feel like I make art so much as I let it out. Sometimes it takes all the energy I have to teach a class—to put on the show. I give my everything so I can get something out of my students. And it’s totally worth it. 

To Learn more about the exciting work of Holly Combs- please visit:

The Department of Public Words

What If Money Was No Object - Alan Watts

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


What is your name?

My name is Sarah Grain.

Where are you from? 

I was born and raised in Indianapolis.  I traveled overseas a bit and always thought I would end up living in a foreign country, which I suppose I still might.  But I am feeling more rooted and fulfilled here in my hometown than I could have ever imagined.

Where do you live?
I live in the urban core of Indianapolis, in an area my neighbors and I affectionately call Clifton on the River.

When did you realize that you wanted to be an musician?

I did not grow up in a musical family, but as far back as I can remember I secluded myself in my bedroom to sew, write poetry, sing, draw, pretty much any kind of craft or art form that I could do with the materials available to me.  Creative expression wasn’t a choice I made,but was a natural yearning that became an essential part of my healthy self as I discovered the world around me.  I came upon my mother’s small-bodied Gibson folk guitar in the family attic when I was 15.   I learned three chords and wrote a song immediately.  I remember performing it in front of a roomful of peers a few months later, and that was a defining moment.  Writing, singing and performing have always been interwoven for me.  At this point, I realize it would take much more energy for me to not do my art, than for me to do it.  I have to prioritize writing and make time for it, but when I do, it is there as a meditation and a healing practice that makes every day bearable and a celebration.

Who influenced you as an musician?

My most profound influences have always been my friends.  People that I know inside and out and inspire me with their courage, vulnerability, resiliency and tenacity.  These aren’t always artists.  Most of the time they aren’t, actually.  But some of my best friends are amazing artists and I constantly draw from their wisdom and bodies of work.

What is your favorite thing about being a singer- song writer/musician?

I have always been a jack-of-all-trades, and it truly surprises me how I have stuck with songwriting this long.  The lovely thing about songwriting is that a work is never finished.  My most beloved songs are the ones that I have been playing for years and I still have more to learn, still have intricacies to discover and new approaches, new people to collaborate with that will make the song sound like something I have never heard before.  I never have to put the song away on a shelf, never have to sell it.  It is always mine; something I can revisit and return to if it feels like the work is not done.  On the flip side, because there is often not a physical remnant, some songs are like feathers in the wind.  It is there for a moment, and if I get distracted before I write it down or record the idea, it’s gone.   It’s incredibly frustrating sometimes to think about the amount of songs I have lost over the years.  But, it’s oral history.  Unless the song is repeated over and over, remembered, unless its recorded, then you have to let that bird fly and hope when it returns that it will bring you something dazzling and insightful to make up for the loss.I often take long breaks from songwriting, but I never let  the creative space loom empty.  When my children were born I turned to other creative outlets – specifically, toy making and doll making.  I have knitted special stuffed animals and made beautiful dolls for each of them.  It’s so satisfying to watch them play with a doll that I poured my blood, sweat and tears into, literally, and that holds my essence and my love.  And the satisfaction of working with real, hard materials – that is something I can truly appreciate coming from the intangibility of songwriting.  Right now I am working on a family quilt, and helping my 4 year-old daughter design her own doll quilt and pillow for the doll that I made her.

Do you have a studio where you create music? Where is it?

My studio is my piano, my kitchen table, really any place I can get a quiet moment to hash out an idea or just play.  I have ended up writing a lot of my songs on piano in recent years because my children can sit with me and play and I can easily stand up and wipe tears or pour some water for a child in need.  I am not a piano player and I usually transfer my songs onto guitar, but it has been nice that I have a basic knowledge for songwriting purposes.I do desperately need a space outside the home where I can go when I do have a few hours free, especially in the winter.  Last year I wrote a song called ‘Meadow Blue’ when I was in search of a quiet place to write.  Fortunately, it was a beautiful day and I ended up settling on a sunny field in Marrot Park.  The chorus goes like this:  “I need a quiet little room/ A sunny little window where I can just stare / But I guess this field will do / Meadow blue, open air.” 

When did you become a mother?

When I was in college I had a boyfriend with a beautiful four-year old daughter.  I spent a lot of time with her; making dinner, giving baths, reading, putting her to bed.  I felt like a mother then, if only for a few nights a week.  My oldest daughter is now four.  She was born in the summer of 2009, six months before I released my album ‘Terrain’.  She was able to be in the studio, and if you listen really hard to the track ‘This Old House’ you can hear her crying in the background. 

What are your challenges as a mother musician? 

One of the greatest challenges to me as a mother artist is defining success for myself, and facing confidently the expectations that others have of me.  Even in my own mind, there seems to be a very clear interpretation of what ‘success’ looks like for a musician. I would no doubt have a terrible time managing motherhood if something inside of me was pulling me toward the road, toward a life of late nights and touring; if I felt that I couldn’t do one without giving up the other.  But, the truth is, I have always preferred going to bed before 10 pm.  And I am a homebody, not a roadie.  I used to think that I was just making excuses so as to not have to assume the courageous role of taking my art seriously.But now, I honestly don’t feel like I am making excuses, and I do take my art seriously.  This is who I am and who I have always been, and my focus now is to find the “third way” – creating and performing inspiring music while always honoring the rooted, grounded, stable creature that I am.

What has been the driving force behind keeping a balance between being a mother and an musician?

My husband Tedd and I both feel that one of the most important gifts we can offer our children is the value of meaningful work.  We want them to discover what is meaningful to them, and to feel confident in pursuing those passions and developing their curiosities.  “It’s all modeling,” we often tell each other.  When our children see us engaging in meaningful work that fills our souls, they are that much closer to understanding and tapping into the magic for themselves.  Tedd is always singing and playing guitar here at home for the family, for fun.  He is utilizing his creativity on home projects, taking long adventures on foot, and bringing attention to his health and fitness.  I am writing songs, quilting, making dolls, baking.  We are constantly in a cycle of meaningful work and creativity that I know is laying a foundation for them to know themselves intimately.  The legacy is what drives me.  I know that the songs I write are somehow creating a historical context for my children to understand themselves in the chaos of modern life.  It’s a place they can go to, if they want, when they need a compass or comfort; when they need my guidance but don’t want to ask me for it.We often get into the car and I ask them, ‘What music should we listen to?’ “Momma’s songs,” Stella replies.  That is what drives me.

When do you spend time making music?

I am lucky that my art does not require much set up or clean up.  I find time to sing or fine-tune a song idea for twenty minutes at a time throughout the day, like after washing the morning dishes when the children have run off to the playroom, wrapped up in the novelty of the new day.  I tend to do deep dives into my art.  Meaning, I may be working on a song or preparing for a performance and every time that a quiet moment pops up around the house I use that time to write or practice.  But at other times, weeks may pass where I don’t pick up my guitar at all, and I focus more on the other aspects of my life.I also have begun to rely on collaborations much more as a mother.  I need others’ creative energy, ideas, and : all this helps propel me forward and inspire me.  So, though I do a lot of idea creation and work shopping here at the house in the bits and pieces of time available to me, I also find time away from the family to bring those ideas to life and give them depth with other musicians.  I have also had to “dig deep”, as Tedd and I call it.  This past six months I have pulled quite a few all-nighters in the studio because I needed to be up with the kids at 7 a.m. and nighttime was the only hours I had free.  It can wear on me, as I have gotten sick and even lost my voice recently because I wore myself down so much, which in turn had a negative impact on my family.  It’s all choices, priorities, and those priorities are always shifting and taking turns calling out to me.  

How many children do you have? Do you want more?

I have three children:  Idalina (pronounced ee-dah-leen-ah), 4 ½ ; and twins Stella and Luca, 2 ½ .  My family feels complete, and after breastfeeding twins until they were 2, I am just so happy to be out of the nursing haze!

Have you ever considered giving up music in order to be a mother?

For me, music and mothering go so hand in hand I have never asked myself that question.  I have never desired to be the performing artist that spends most of her time on tour or at late night gigs.  I am untraditional in that way, perhaps.  Indianapolis culture can support an artist like me playing out once a month, maybe once every two or three months.  That feels right to me.  I am doing this at my own pace. There isn’t an expectation that it will feed my family and I am good with that.  It’s just feeding my soul.  I have been doing this for 15 years and it is who I am and who I will always be.  Whenever I think about that, I let out a huge sigh of relief and just enjoy the process.If anything, I want to challenge myself to do more playing and singing in an informal way, around the house.  Tedd is so good at picking up the guitar as soon as he gets home and playing silly songs, fun songs, carols.  He is the family troubadour.  I have always approached music from a more serious standpoint, a therapeutic standpoint, and I would like to loosen up and be sillier and help my children truly enjoy music.  When they get older, I want them to say that they “grew up in a musical family.”  That would be a dream come true.

Do you have support from your family and friends to keep making art?

I am lucky to say that I feel very supported by my friends and family. My mother, Tedd’s mother and his grandparents are all staple caregivers for the children, and though I do not always use that time to work on my art, the time away is rejuvenating and makes the possibility for creative expression seem more accessible to me.  My sister, brother and my friends all listen to my work, come to performances, and tell me when a song I have written is accompanying them through their life journey.  The thought that the songs I create can be a steady backdrop in the lives of the people I love fills me with awe.
From the very beginning of our parenting journey, Tedd and I were very intentional about giving each other regular time away from the family to pursue our own interests and spend time with friends.  I have Saturday mornings free, and he has Sundays.  We always come back refreshed and ready to jump back in.  I can choose to spend that time on my art, or meandering aimlessly through a park, or errands I want to do without three kids in tow, or an intimate breakfast with a good friend.  No matter how I spend it, it is an essential part of my creative rejuvenation.  As far as my art specifically, the most important way that Tedd has shown support for me is by gently asking, “What is your motivation here?”  So many times as artists we do art just to do it, without asking and asking again that very important question which in turn serves as our guiding compass.  15.Do you feel like you are taken seriously as a mother artist?I know I am taken seriously when someone tells me ‘That song you wrote has really helped me’ or ‘I have been listening to that song over and over again.’  Recently, a musician that I utterly respect said, ‘I think that is one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard.’  Whoa.How can I not feel I am taken seriously when someone says something like that to me?  

Has becoming a mother influenced your music?

Becoming a mother has most certainly impacted my work.  I want to write songs that help people get through hard days, long days, and help them celebrate the little joys in all of life around them.  I want to write music that help people feel connected to others and give them a deep sense of place; songs that positively feed their longings.  I have learned more about all of this through my experiences as a mother.I also look for inspiration in my children.  Recently, my daughter turned to me and said, “Mama, sometimes my whole self just feels like a rainbow.”  How beautiful is that?!  And now I have been singing a tune to it around the house, messing around on guitar, and surely in a few months it will be a completed song.  

Do you think mother artists are taken seriously in society?

I don’t know about others, but when I find an artist that inspires me, the first question I always want answered is, “Do they have children?” I want to know what kind of difficult choices they had to make to advance their artistic careers.  I tend to take them more seriously when they are parents, and find more depth in their work.  I am not sure whether this is a societal perspective, but it is my own.  Without children, artists can certainly do “more”.  But the question remains, is doing more mean that you are going deeper?  I am not so sure about that.

What do you say when someone asks “what does your husband do for a living?” are you offended by such a question?

I love talking about Tedd.  Though his career isn’t in the artistic field, he is the most creative and innovative thinker I have ever met.  Next to him, I feel stoic and old fashioned.  When someone asks me what he does for a living, I say that he works in Community Development. If they probed me more, I would say he is a brilliant facilitator, strategic thinker and maximizer of human potential.

What is your story?

A defining moment in my life was when I began training Capoeria Angola, an Afro-Brazilian martial art, when I was a senior in high school. Because my teacher also taught in Bloomington, that twist of fate kept me in Indiana--Before Capoeira, I planned to bee-line for the west coast for college. Over the next 6 years, I traveled twice to Salvador de Bahia, Brazil to study Capoeira Angola with my home group, learned Portuguese, and this ultimately led me to meet Tedd, who spent his youth in Northeast Brazil. Now we raise our children bilingual in Portuguese, and our connection with that heritage is a cornerstone of our family culture. 

What have you learned about balancing motherhood and your passions?

There will be times when it feels like everything is in perfect balance, where I am getting everything I need from the different aspects of my life.  But more often, I will have to turn my back on one aspect in order to do a “deep dive” into another.   In this way, it’s important for me to take the long view.  It’s not about what I accomplish with my passions in a day, or even a week. I set goals over months, even years at a time.I am not one-dimensional, nor am I one-sided.  Sometimes I feel like I am a dodecahedron, trying to balance 12 or more different sides of my passions and my time.  But to really give my art the space it needs to evolve naturally, I must constantly reprioritize and simplify my commitments.  This means saying “No”, always remembering that saying “No” to one thing means that I am saying “YES!” to something else.  I want to say “YES!” to my art and my family.  Anything that falls in line with those priorities I can fold in.  Anything that doesn’t fall in line, is a mission-drift.

What advice can you offer other mother artists about pursuing their passions regardless of their situation?

Before my first child was born, a good friend encouraged me to prepare for everything taking twice as long.  After adding twins to the mix, I try to give myself leeway for everything taking four times as long.  Keeping that in mind has been one of the most helpful tools for me as a mother artist.  Instead of expecting that I can work on my art for 6 hours at a time, I have to be more prepared, look for the clear stopping points, and break the work up into 30 to 45 minute segments.  Sometimes, I get a few of those segments right next to each other, but those times are few and far between.I also try to befriend other mother and father artists.  This year I’ve set up “getting to know you” coffees with two mother songwriters and one visual artist.  Comparing yourself to the momentum of other artists that do not have children is unhealthy.  It’s been life-giving to learn about the journeys and tools that other mother artists employ to progress their creative journeys.  Developing these kind of relationships also give me the sense that I am creating in community, and not in a vacuum.  I have one dear mother artist friend that I have established a mentor relationship with – and the mentor ship goes both ways – she told me that I am her mentor, too.  She lives in San Francisco, but we have nice long therapeutic talks at least once a month about motherhood, work, music, and when I hang up the phone I feel at peace – like I am understood.  It’s wonderful and I would suggest to any mother artist to seek out and nurture mentorships like those.

What do you want to be remembered for as an musician?

I want to write songs that heal, that are nurturing and help people be gentle with themselves.  I want to be remembered for songs that connect people to everything around them and allow them to experience the natural and human world with the same reverence and awe that I do.  I want to write music that is timeless … that can speak to others in places and times distant from my own generation.  With the songs I write, I want to slow life down.

To learn more about Sarah Grain and her music visit:

**See Sarah Grain in concert**

Sarah Grain w/full band and featuring The Maple Trio

Saturday, March 22nd
Doors open 8pm; Music at 9pm

Indiana City Brewing Company 
24 Shelby Street 
(just South of Washington Street on the southeast side of downtown)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


What is your name? 

Kat Johnston

Where are you from? 
Rochester, NY/ Philadelphia

Where do you live
Carmel, IN

When did you realize that you wanted to be an artist?

I did my first painting when I was 7 yrs old, I knew I wanted to be an artist my whole life, since childhood.

Who influenced you as an artist?

My uncle Robby, was an artist, he taught me how to paint.  He passed away at a young age (mid-twenties) from AIDS, when I was only 10.

What is your favorite medium? 

Painting, mixed media

Do you have a studio?  Where is it?

I work in my home, a small space (desk area) and/or floor.

When did you become a mother? 

Sept 2012, about a year a half ago.

What are your challenges as a mother artist?

Finding the time to make art is the most challenging.  I haven’t been able to work on larger projects without getting interrupted.  Also having to adapt my work environment to make it child safe- like not leaving materials about for the baby to grab or get into, scissors, paint, glue, pencils, etc.  Before being a mom, I would leave my mess wherever I wanted and be able to come back to a project whenever the mood struck.  I have to stop and put everything away and be patient for another opportunity to work.

What has been the driving force behind keeping a balance between being a mother and an artist? 

If I didn’t make art I think a part of me would die, I know that sounds dramatic but it’s the truth.

When do you spend time making art? 

When she takes her nap in the afternoon (usually an hour and a half to 2 hours) and at night after she’s in bed.  Sometimes I try to sneak in working on small pieces when she is awake and with me, I find creative ways to incorporate her into the process, she helps me find images in magazines, loves tearing the pages out and handing them to me.  If I am working on a larger painting, I sometimes put her in the wrap and wear her while I paint, she likes it for a short time but then wants to go do something else.  She is very active now, ( toddler to the max) and runs around looking for things to get into.  Just in the past few weeks she has started coloring with crayons on the walls. She is so quick, scribbling before I have a chance to stop her.  Its her art, since Mommy has all her stuff on the walls, Wynter wants to be just like her mommy.

How many children do you have?
Do you want more?

 One.  Yes!  We plan to have 3 more children.

Have you ever considered giving up art in order to be a mother? 

No. Never.  

Do you have support from your family and friends to keep making art?

 Yes, I have a lot of support.  My husband is always encouraging me to make art and keep doing shows, he helps me stay organized and able to juggle everything.  I get a lot of positive feedback from my family and friends. I am very active on facebook, networking and connecting with other artists online in the collage/ mixed media groups.  I have made lots of friends and have done dozens of collaborations with artists from all different parts of the country and even over seas! Its wonderful to be able to have a group of people who give you support and praise on a daily basis! Even if I just make a small piece (like post card size) it’s fun to post it up on facebook to see how many “likes” it gets and to hear people’s feedback! 

Do you feel like you are taken seriously as a mother artist? 

Yes, I think so.  Most people are impressed by how prolific I am despite having a little one.  When I take Wynter to my openings people are very friendly and interested in her and how her entrance into my life influenced my work. I don’t see the two roles as separate, I am mom and artist, they are one and the same.

Has becoming a mother influenced your art?

 Most definitely it has!  When I was pregnant with her many of my pieces explored the experience of being pregnant and all the waiting and anticipation (worry/ fear) but also hopefulness and joy that comes along with that.  After she was born she continued to make her way into my art, I used photos of her in my mixed media collages.  People really thought that was cool that she was such a big part of my work. 

Do you think mother artists are taken seriously in society? 

I think they do, but I think the individual has a lot of influence on how they are perceived, in how they see themselves effects how society and others will receive them.  For example if a mother artist is confident and goes after her dream and doesn’t perceive herself as somehow compromised or at a disadvantage because of having children then I think the art world will see her as such, an artist who is driven and going after her dream. I think that is the reality for much of life, we are the creators of our own realities, we heavily influence outcomes of things by our beliefs and expectations.  

What do you say when someone asks “what does your husband do for a living?” 
Are you offended by such a question? 

No. It’s not offensive to me.  I would answer that“I am an artist, and he is a life insurance agent” 

What is your story? 

 I studied Fine Arts in undergrad at a small college in Rochester, NY (my hometown)) then went onto to get my Masters degree in Art Therapy.  My first love has always been making my own art and exhibiting but I thought Art Therapy was a good way to share my passion for art with others, to teach others the powerful therapeutic effects that art can bring, also enjoyed learning about themes and collective unconscious symbolism in art.  I worked as an art therapist for about 7 years in Philadelphia after graduating from Drexel University.  Life circumstances became complicated for us, my husband and I, after only a few weeks of learning we were going to have our first child, we got evicted from our apartment.  With no where to turn for help locally, we accepted an invitation to move to Indianapolis by my husband’s mother.  Things went from bad to worse, just a few short weeks later, we found ourselves in a trucker motel , dropped off and told we had a week to figure things out, with no jobs and no money to our name, we trusted that the universe would bring something our way, we were able to find a place to stay with a long lost cousin who lived here in Indianapolis. We stayed there until we found jobs and before we knew it we were back on our feet in asafe 1 bed room apt in Carmel. We learned a lot about life that year and we continue to learn to not take any little thing for granted.  All of the comforts and appearingly stability that we have in our life can be gone in an instant.  Nothing in life is static or permanent.  That is why it is so important to cherish each moment spent with your loved ones. 

What have you learned about balancing motherhood and your passions? 

I guess I have learned that if something is important enough you will make time for it, even ifits not the amount you used to devote or amount you would want. You make due with what you can accomplish, knowing that things do evolve and change. I appreciate my time with my daughter being this young age because I know before I know it she will be all grown up and I will miss these times when she was so small and so dependent on me.  I don’t ever wish to fast forward to “easier” age, because I can never go back. So I just really take things a day at a time, accomplish what I can, even if its just small works on magnets, or altered playing cards which are small and quick.  I know someday I will get back to working larger and more involved, before I know it! 

What advice can you offer other mother artists about pursuing their passions regardless of their situation? 

Baby steps ( no pun intended) but seriously take it one step at a time, set small goals, like do one drawing by the end of the week or something like that, and be patient with yourself.  Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t make your goal, just try again next week.  Each day and each week is a little different than the one before.  Give yourself permission to relax and play, not every piece of art has to be a masterpiece,  sometimes just making stuff for fun that is creative can be a good way to ease back in to making 

What do you want to be remembered for as an artist? 

I want to be remembered for connecting to deeper parts of the human experience, when people see my work I want them to feel connected to it, like it taps into somewhere deep within them. A part that they have forgotten or ignored that is being stirred and woken up.  

For more information about Kat Johnston and her work visit :