We had the good fortune of connecting with Miss Art World Katherine Cooksey and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Miss Art World, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
Blurry, fuzzy, or pixelated are all ways I have explained my eyesight. I have dominant optic atrophy, which is an incurable and degenerative eye disease that causes a lack of visual acuity, living in low resolution. When I was in middle school, my dad began teaching me how to paint. With my new creative interests, I planted myself in eighth-grade art class. “You can’t be an artist if you can’t see” were the poisonous words my teacher thought to share with me after finding out I had difficulty seeing. To my young mind, this made sense, but I was devastated and struggled in school. A challenge I have is communicating how I see. I am not blind and have no physical indicators to show I am visually impaired so most people don’t know I don’t see well or they make assumptions about what my limitations and capabilities are.

Then a pageant advertisement caught my attention. My feminist mom begrudgingly signed me up. Stage fright from looking out at a sea of people is a feeling I will never know: everyone is a blur of colors. I had found my superpower within my weakness and I spent the next decade of my life in the beauty industry.

In high school, my parents fought battles with teachers who refused to make accommodations for me because “the real world wouldn’t make accommodations.” As a rebellious frustrated teenager, I realized adults could be wrong. I developed a deep-seated need to share these challenges through my art. I went on to receive my Bachelors of Fine Arts from the California State University of Bakersfield and my Masters of Fine Art from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
The performative nature of pageantry lends itself naturally to utilizing performance as a medium and vehicle to deliver my concepts. I pull from my experiences to question the dominating ideologies of beauty, gender, and the idea of “perfection” fused with the disturbing and obsessive struggle to obtain it. Social norms and the expression and suppression of stereotypes within femininity and feminism cause the prejudicial idea that the two are opposite. My works dealing with this issue have culminated in my self-designated title and birth of Miss Art World–a concept that embodies the feminist feminine fighter, a champion for social change who uses creative activism to inspire thoughtful conversation, cultural advancement, and inclusivity as a lifelong performance piece. I envision others joining the Miss Art World movement of creative queens with the power, courage, and strength to use their art for social change and equality.

Over the years I have performed all over California and beyond. My performances include Art Basel Conversations Miami in 2017 and in 2019 two solo shows “Sentenced to Death” at Studio Channel Islands Art Center and “Second Skins” at Los Angeles Art Association. My latest performance “Diversity Walks and Talks” was featured in the 2020 LA Art Show’s DIVERSEartLA section. For this performance, I interviewed over 120 individuals about their views on diversity then invited them to walk the runway in whatever wardrobe they felt represented themselves while their pre-recorded interviews played on a screen. Inviting people, especially non-artists, to participate in my performances allows the concept to be influenced by diverse perspectives and connects with audiences in a unique way beyond the typical audience and artist.

The Miss Art World concept is a lifelong performance piece and, not performed by a singular performer, but shared by other artists through a broader movement. When I am Miss Art World, I am draped in the trappings of a beauty queen presenting somewhat of a counterintuitive connection to the performance’s message of inclusivity and positive social change. I have recruited Klaire Lockheart who’s artwork addresses gender identity and feminism within contemporary American culture as Miss Art World South Dakota, thus beginning a movement of creative queens, a family of like minds that can be found all over the world. Miss Art World is a vehicle for creative activism.

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.
First, we must brunch at Eat This Cake for bottomless Mimosas. Then we will spend the day looking at the amazing art LA offers either at LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) or The Broad. Lunch at India’s Tandoori after getting way too full we have to hit the fashion district the hub of the fashion industry to hunt for new outfits. Don’t forget to grab a snack at one of the street vendors selling bacon-wrapped hotdogs. To relax before our busy night we will spot by Lotus Thai Massage for some self-care. Dinner would be at Sushi Ippo. For the night we would get dressed up and dance the night away at Clifton’s Republic or enjoy the best drag show Hamburger Mary’s. Don’t forget late-night drinks at Seven Grand. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My Family, Husband, and all my supportive friends in the art world! Big shout out to Studio Channel Islands Art Center and Gallery 805 for showcases my artwork!

Website: missartworld.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/missartworld/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/missartworld/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/missartworld/?ref=bookmarks

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLXKv0NTWqoKYqkA24R6wyw?view_as=subscriber

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