Katie Lochhead has literally drawn lines from the ornate architectural sculpturing of the man who designed the Wainwright building in St. Louis to toiletries in a medicine cabinet, as the only student included in the Louis Sullivan exhibit at the Edwardsville Arts Center.
The exhibit, which opened earlier this month, includes a variety of examples of Sullivan’s work, as well as interpretations of his style by various artists. Lochhead, 28, a second-year master’s student pursuing a master’s degree in fine arts in drawing at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, was the only student selected for inclusion in the exhibit.
“The prompt was to look into Louis Sullivan’s work and respond in any way that stems from what I currently do,” Lochhead said. “I thought it sounded interesting to have such flexibility.”
Lochhead primarily works in ink drawing with some performance art. “I am mostly concerned with what we believe, and how we believe it to be true,” she said. “This area of what’s real and not real, and why we think that.”
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Sullivan was an acknowledged master of architectural art, specializing in ornate sculptures on what were then considered skyscrapers of 12 stories tall. It was at a time when people considered space in a very different way, Lochhead said; the artistry of the design was as important as the functionality. His work inspired many others, including famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who considered Sullivan a mentor even after they had a falling out and no longer spoke.
Sullivan was also a difficult man, Lochhead said; a terrible businessman who drove away collaborators and clients, and ended up dying alone in a common Chicago boardinghouse.
“He was incredibly well-known and respected for over-the-top, decorated spaces for people to dwell in, so it’s a bizarre irony that he died alone in a boardinghouse,” Lochhead said. “No one would hire him because he was so difficult, and he was very lonely.”
Lochhead chose to draw a collection of toiletries that would have been appropriate for the time of Sullivan’s death, but designed them as he would have, with elaborate scrolling and sculpturing.
“I wanted to take something very human, but had an anonymous quality as well, and suppose he designed it with the same attention he designed those spaces,” she said. “It’s a nod to the beautiful quality of his work, but a deeper consideration of his life as well.”
It’s a nod to the beautiful quality of his work, but a deeper consideration of his life as well.
Lochhead completed her bachelor’s degree at St. Louis University in 2010 in art with a focus in drawing. She graduated magna cum laude with a GPA of 3.9. She has a graduate assistantship working in the Art and Design building’s gallery.
After finishing her master’s degree, Lochhead is interested in teaching at the college level, focusing on foundational drawing and two-dimensional art. She is currently working on a project conflating illuminated manuscripts in the style of ancient texts with “alternative facts” from the modern political era, using a style similar to the illuminated manuscripts of writer and poet William Morris.
“It’s in the same vein of what is real, and how do you trust that it’s real?” Lochhead said.
She has also been working on botanical illustrations in a traditional style, but paired with a personal narrative, either from her own life or those of others. “It gives me and the potential author more mobility not to say who it is, whether it’s me or not,’ she said. “We set the stage with something you trust, a botanical image that looks scientific ... The viewer is posed with the question, if the illustration is a way of looking at the plant, is that also something that’s learned in a totally different way?”
In the meantime, the Sullivan exhibit continues through March 17. The Edwardsville Arts Center is open to the public 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, located on the campus of Edwardsville High School.
Meet Katie Lochhead
- Age: 28
- School: SIUE second-year master’s in fine arts candidate with an emphasis in drawing.
- Hometown: St. Louis
- Parents: Kathleen and Scott Lochhead
- Siblings: One brother, Jim, lives in El Salvador
- Previous school: Graduated magna cum laude from St. Louis University with a bachelor’s degree in art
- Awards: Received the Competitive Graduate Award in her first year at SIUE.
- Employment: Graduate assistantship in the Art & Design Building Gallery
- Pastimes: Listening to podcasts and reading
- Advice for other students: “Seek out good mentorship, and seek out everything that has potential. Know what’s out there before giving up on any idea that might seem impossible or isn’t sustainable. Always keep working, even if you don’t show anyone your work. I’m very lucky to have had mentors in the past and currently, who pushed me to see if these things are possible rather than giving up quickly, but keeping in mind the realities. If you’re interested in art, you’re not the kind of person interested in a buck at the end of the day ... But you can investigate what is possible, and it’s something that people aren’t encouraged enough to keep doing.”