April 1, 2013
This week, Off the Cuff spoke with Katie Martin, an artist and educator who spearheaded the creation of 724 small owl sculptures for Renaissance Theaterworks’ upcoming production The Road to Mecca, which explores the life and work of South African outsider artist Helen Martins. Each owl—which loosely mirrors Martins’ artistic style—is made of plaster with décolletage including dried beans, broken glass and old jewelry. Members of PEARLS for Teen Girls, Journey House, Girl Scouts and Meetup contributed to the creation process, and each theatergoer will receive a souvenir owl after the show.
When did you become involved in this project?
Almost two years ago, so it’s been a long time in the making. I’m both ecstatic and extremely depressed that it’s coming to an end.
Have you felt a personal connection to Martins’ while working on this project?
I think that the connection to Martins was far greater than I ever imagined it would be. It’s interesting because there are these literary connections: I’m Kathryn Elizabeth Martin, and she’s Helen Elizabeth Martins. But, on a deeper level, I was given this project when I was pregnant with my child who’s now 16 months old, so that really shows you the range of time. Having this project and this sort of compulsion and need to create was a lifesaver for me because it was that thing that kept me connected to my life as an artist.