Lead photo by Donald R. Winslow, Art by Katie Rose Pipkin
By Dane Anderson, Staff Writer
Katie Rose Pipkin sat on the darkening porch at Flipnotics coffee house, bundled in a coat against the night air. Wisps of short, blond hair occasionally flicked straight upwards in a breeze and her wide eyes peered out over the top of her collar. She arrived wrapped in the confidence of a curious mind let loose in a colorful world. She was 19, but she wasn’t. She seemed a lot older.
Back from a year of exploring and summer sojourns at the Academy of Art in San Francisco and the Paris American Academy courtesy of a coveted Young Masters grant from the Texas Commission of the Arts, the 2008 Westlake High School graduate is now studying art at the University of Texas. She’s at an interesting point in her life, a moment when remarkable talent meets with all the possibilities of higher education, a point where innocence and wisdom collide.
“As an artist, you are always trying to relate to other people through something you share,” she said. “You’re always reaching out, trying to illustrate something better, explain something about our human life. We are always trying to capture those moments and situations that take us out of the every day and put those feelings on canvas.”
Pipkin doesn’t like to be called a prodigy, but that’s exactly what her classmates and teachers at Westlake considered her to be – a powerful combination of raw talents that came out in her drawings, paintings, photography and sculpture.
“There are so many attributes that make Katie extraordinary,” said Dale Baker, her former Westlake art teacher. “I was looking through a folder the other day that contained some of her digital work when she was here, and I was taken aback by the sheer number of quality pieces of art – 53 of them. Her work ethic and productivity set her apart, but it’s her talent that makes her an exceptional artist. She makes it look so easy.”
Pipkin won accolades as an all-state artist from her sophomore year forward in high school. She’s won so many awards, in fact, that nobody bothers to keep up with them anymore. Awards don’t impress her as much as seeing her work up on display in galleries, coffee shops and homes. She considers the list of galleries that have shown her work more important than any list of awards she’s received.
“Awards are great,” she said. “But it’s another thing entirely when your work is on the wall. We keep our deepest thoughts to ourselves, where they’re safe. It takes someone brave to take things truly important to them and put them out there.”
Even within the limitations of a Web site viewing of her work, Katie’s pieces are fascinating and addicting. People look and they want more. That list of galleries where her work has been exhibited is growing rapidly.
“People seem to feel their own personal connection to her work,” said her father, Turk Pipkin, author and filmmaker. “That’s rare. It’s something writers, musicians and all kinds of artists can spend their whole life trying to achieve.”
The younger Pipkin admits to being driven by nature. She used to spend a lot of time worrying about what would and wouldn’t happen and what her future would hold.
“If I didn’t paint, I would go absolutely crazy,” she said. “Everybody has something like that. Something that keeps us sane. For some people it’s model trains. I have to create. There’s no choice.”
Now tucked away in the relative anonymity of UT art school, Pipkin is relaxing in the luxury of being 19, full of ideas and in college. In art school, everyone is talented. Everyone is free to pursue interests.
“I enjoy learning; public school almost destroyed that for me,” she said. “Learning is so damned fun. People forget that. The more you learn about the world, the better you can interpret it. As an artist, that’s your goal. You want to see that light. To be in an environment where that is the only goal is pretty powerful.”
What will Katie Rose Pipkin bring to the world? We’ve yet to find that out. For now, the young, talented artist is content to sit back for a bit and see what happens. She looks for color and experience in everyday living. She takes joy in grocery shopping and finding blueberries on sale.
“You have to allow yourself a certain amount of delight, or there’s just no point really,” she said. “If you don’t allow yourself that, you go mad.”
To get a peek at the world of Katie Pipkin, visit her online at tattooedshoes.com.
Artwork by Katie Rose Pipkin