Q&A: Kate Ovaska


Have you recently been living by any life philosophy? Yes, I have a philosophy and could write volumes on this. But in this short format, I will just say that I think everything matters. What will baffle future generations about our day and age? Many things, and for one, that babies are separated from their parents too early because our maternity and paternity leave is not adequate. Are you aware of any conspiracies? Yes, many, but I better not get into that here. What is it that interests you about photography? I practice photography because of its unique ability to show analogies which help me find peace and understanding in my life. I connected with photography in high school because it gave me a way to create a family narrative that was missing due to adoptions in my family. Through my practice I discovered family secrets and have been able to find and reconnect with some of my missing family members. What is the worst thing about city life? The constant noise. What part of the planet would you like to explore? The depths. What do you think is the most plausible of the supernatural? I believe in many things that cannot be proven. My sister and I practiced as telepathy as children. If you had to align yourself with a leader in history, who would it be? Jesus. Pick a field of science to be an expert within. Physics and biology both really interest me. What moment have you most wished you’d had a camera when you hadn’t? I try to allow pictures to come to me and accept the ones that are not. I sometimes let images wash over me (without the medium of the camera) which I think is equally as important as the images that I take with film. This kind of thinking can be hard when you look at a lot of photographs so sometimes I attempt to detox and not look at images for a time, which is incredibly difficult because they are everywhere. Our world is so saturated with photographs. Choose a job you would be willing to do for free on the side. Mother. Describe the most important photo you’ve seen. The first photograph I saw of my grandmother. I learned of her identity after years of searching and finally saw a high school portrait from the year she got pregnant with my mother.

How often do you take other people’s advice? I probably give more advice than I take. Describe a personal hell. Living under the rule of an insane person. Which living person do you most admire? My husband. On what occasion do you lie? I believe in the power of the truth so I really try not to lie if at all possible. What was the last crime you witnessed? I see texting and driving all the time. A few years ago I watched Werner Herzog’s short films about people that died/killed others while texting and driving and now it scares me to death. What is the best way to educate yourself? It depends about what you are trying to educate yourself. Reading helps and getting out into the world and not spending every moment on the computer, unless you are trying to educate yourself about computers. What is the next book you want to read? Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell. Ultimate camera? I really love the cameras I have. Most used camera? For years I used a 4×5 wooden no-name field camera and a Deardorff 8×10, now I’m using a Fuji 6×7 as well. What object do you want? Flowers. What object do you need? I think I have too many objects in my life. How would you explain the internet to someone from the 1950’s? It is the new TV. Are you satisfied with your level of physical strength? I’d love to be stronger. Describe a cheap thrill. The moment when a photograph appears in the developer. Pick an historic moment from the last hundred years to bring a camera to. Usually big, loud, historical moments are not the kinds of places I make photographs. Are impulses more important than consequences? When speaking about making photographs, yes follow the impulse. Which talent would you most like to have? I’m not sure I believe in talent but I wish I was a better guitar player. What is your plan for the next 24 hours? I have a long to-do list, mostly involving booking travel arrangements.

Kate Ovaska received her MFA from Columbia University and her BFA from Massachusetts College of Art and Design. She was awarded the CAA Professional Development Grant and the Fulbright Fellowship to Germany and is currently an artist in residence at Pioneer Works. She lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. To see more of Kate’s work Visit — Website / Instagram.