Artist Series: Jay Katelansky

Jay Katelansky is an interdisciplinary artist. She is currently living and working in Oakland, California. She earned her BFA from Moore College of Art and Design and her MA and MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her work questions how Black bodies, including her own, navigate space in the United States. The questions she’s been processing are: What does safe mean? How does safe feel? Is safety a place? Is it a person? Is safety an unattainable condition? Who gets to be safe? Are you safe?

Jay designed the Black to the Future T-Shirt and Poster now available in our online store.

More information about Jay is available here

Photos courtesy of Jay Katelansky.

Artist Jay Katelansky

How would you describe your artistic style?

At the moment I am all over the place with my artistic style that I don’t quite know how to pin it down in a concise statement anymore but words that resonate with me pertaining to my artistic style would be unrefined, immediate, celebratory and pessimistic.

How do you describe “safety” as it relates to Black bodies?

Precarious sometimes unattainable when it’s in the hands of others. Intimate when it’s at the hands of someone who loves you, because they are you.

Jay in the studio

What is your go-to comfort show/movie/book?

I feel really embarrassed by admitting this to strangers but I love a good cheesy pull at your heartstrings tv show. At the moment my go to comfort show is “This is Us” especially for Randall and Beth’s relationship. I’ve also watched all seasons of Grey’s Anatomy more than once all the way through at difficult points in my life. Moonlight has definitely become one of my go to comfort movies, the jukebox scene gets me everytime. And last but not least anything written by Akwaeke Emezi, I just finished their book Bitter and I loved every page.

What would your dream project look like?

A residency somewhere beautiful, quiet and warm where I had at least a year to just make art and rest with no expectation of finished work or a final product.

Jay Katelansky wearing the Black to the Future T-Shirt

What was the creative process like when creating the “Black to The Future” design?

The image was a photograph I took several years ago, (it’s an ad for a pavement company which I didn’t know at my first sighting) but when I saw it for the first time, it was like a beacon of light. I had just moved to Wisconsin and I was feeling really out of place and lonely, and I saw the ad while I was half asleep in a car ride on the way back to the university. I thought about that sign for the duration of my time in Wisconsin, partially not knowing if I dreamed it up. The lit up sign comforted me, it helped me think about my future. I took the photo two years later on a day trip with my friend April who drove specifically in the direction of where I previously saw it. When we did finally come across the sign both of us were so happy to see it, to see it actually existed and that's when I took this photo. When being asked by Philadelphia Printworks permission to put this image on a shirt it brought me back to the first time I saw this sign and the second time, both of those days were bright days for me in in dark times so I was elated to have it on a shirt and a screenprint that would be shared with whomever felt moved/inspired/joy by it.

Black to the Future T-Shirt Black to the Future T-Shirt close up

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