We had the good fortune of connecting with Kat West and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kat, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
It feels as if I grew up in two different worlds and looking back – they both had such an impact on who I am today. I was born in the Philippines and lived there until I was about eight years old, but then moved to Brooklyn, New York. There is such a juxtaposition of my memories and how they meld into who I am today. Back in the mother land, I climbed fruit trees, played stick games and crafted things to pass the day. My mom had a sewing studio where she made stuffed toys for local shops. Our community had a lot of crafts people and our home was filled with hand carved and hand made furniture and house ware. Though at the time this all seemed very normal, when I look back – I realize how special this was and how this played a role in surrounding me with creativity from such a young age.
When we moved to New York City, it was such a culture shock. What a big change from being a rural country kid and being thrown into one of the biggest cities in the world. My mom and dad were immigrant, blue collar workers. So at this point we became latch key kids, we were raised to be fairly independent. We spent a lot of time traveling through the city on the weekends, going to museums and parks, taking in everything the city had to offer.
It didn’t dawn upon me until I was an adult, but leaving the Philippines at such a young age and then growing up in Brooklyn essentially left me feeling disconnected to my heritage. I later learned that I was (and still am) feeling the afflictions of being a third culture identifier – one who belongs to a mother culture but has developmentally grown in a culture other than their own resulting in the synthesis of a third culture.
It has really taken me a long time to come to terms with my inner conflicts. I think that recognizing that it is there, is one of the biggest steps I can take to healing and reconnecting to my roots. Having conversations with other third culture identifiers about the adversaries of growing up in between cultures has also really helped me identify the loneliness that I feel. I crave culture, I crave the sense of belonging – and I want to artistically express these emotions through my practice. The commitment I have in accepting these afflictions are translated through meditative intent in my ceramic work.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My ceramic practice stems from a need for healing. Throughout my life whether being conscious of it or not, I always used a creative outlet to work out frustrations or sadness. I think many people find creativity as a tool for self expression and release. I never set out to be a “professional ceramicist”, I continued my ceramic practice throughout the years because I truly enjoyed it!!! And unbeknown to me, there was a healing happening, slowly starting from within, and then carefully coming out of my hands, molding my emotional visions into the sculptures and vessels I create today.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I am very lucky, yes, I know this…. to live in a beach community. Newport Beach is a beautiful town along the coast and is the perfect location for sleepy beach days and outdoor picnics. Strolling along the beach is one of my favorite things to do. One of my most favorite scenarios is watching the sunset at Little Corona Del Mar Beach. I’ve been to many beaches around the world, and this specific scenario is one of the most cinematic I’ve seen in my life.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are so, so, so many people to shout out!! SO, SO, SO MANY. But I definitely want to dedicate this shout out to my family. For being there for me. For having patience with me. For understanding what my ceramic practice means to me. For being proud of me. For being okay with takeout the third night in a row. Haha.