We had the good fortune of connecting with Kathy Leader and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kathy, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I grew up in South Africa, daughter of a wonderful artist. My mother inspired me to paint, be creative and thoughtful. However, she would not spare me any criticism! Instead of encouraging my art process, she unwittingly dampened my creative self confidence by continually judging my art and making me feel less worthy as an artist that she was. It didn’t stop me from wanting to pursue my passion. When I entered art school in Cape Town, I had very little confidence in my work but I pushed through. The professors used to have live critiques in which they would pull your work to pieces in front of you while I did everything I could to hold back the tears. How I continued to paint I do not know! It was a drive, a need for self expression. I was determined to become an art teacher and undo all of what was done to me! I began teaching in an encouraging way, learning that creativity blossoms when it is given permission to flow. That is when I started my own private art studio called “The Art Process Studio”. My teaching style reflects my philosophy of art making. Creativity is a process, not a product. It is everyone’s birthright, to pursue self expression in whatever form it takes. My art students create inspiring, brave and beautiful art. The biggest benefit is the visible calmness and peace that comes from creating art in a supportive environment.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m originally from South Africa and grew up under the apartheid era. The way this impacted whom I am today as a concerned human and an artist, was that it forced me at a very young age to face the cruelty of legalized racism and commit to a value system that forms my identity today. As an artist, the African landscape and colors of the sky influenced my paintings in a way that I am not always conscious of until I sit back and review my work. Unconsciously, the colors, shapes and patterns come through my art even today, after over 30 years since I left my home country. The beauty of the natural environment had a strong impact on my concern for the destruction of the environment which is a theme that runs through my paintings.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would start off at the Eames house in Pacific Palisades. I am a big fan of the mid century aesthetic and values. I would then take them downtown, Los Angeles and have brunch at the Grand Central Market. I’d take them across the street to the iconic historic landmark, the Bradbury building (where they filmed Bladerunner) Then we’d go up the Angel’s Flight ride to the Disney Hall designed by Frank Gehry and on to the Broad museum. For cocktails we would go to the bar at Hauser Wirth and check out the art shows there.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would give credit to a little organization called the Coop 7, a group of women artists that I joined when I first moved to Los Angeles. It was a very supportive and encouraging group, who allowed for free expression in the depiction of the human figure.