Kathy Osborn is a multimedia artist from Brooklyn whose work sets a powerful narrative scene no matter what her technique. Men hover menacingly and women long for escape; you fill in the blanks in the story. In her own words, she “seeks out assignments in which her figures become situated, as if they were in scenes in a play.”
Even The Kiss captures a sense of dread, as a man is photographed from above leaning over to kiss/kill a vulnerable woman. Harsh lighting and deep shadows add to the “no-exit” mood of the image. And women are not always the most susceptible ones. In the illustration, Short Story, a dominatrix in black struts down the sloping yard, a drink in one hand and cigarette in the other, to confront her hapless husband and daughter. Tree stumps litter in the yard in front of a modern house, as if a premonition that nature is not all that is in danger.
Blood is either present or about to be spilled in much of the work. Entire families are threatened by either doom, the more subtle ennui, or both. The artist herself is confronted by her own work in Living with Art. An overscaled photograph of a man peers over her shoulder as she reads in her living room. Does Osborn create these fictional tableaus as talismans in order to counteract real-life threats?
The detailed stagings suggest more than a casual acquaintance with murder mysteries. Using life-like dolls dressed in “human” clothes, and shifting the scale to wall-sized photographs creates even more tension, as if the figures could come alive at any moment.
Osborn has been an illustrator for many years and lives in Brooklyn, NY. She has illustrated covers for theNew Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, and Rolling Stone, among others. Osborn graduated from the Rhode Island School of Art and Design and studied commercial art at Pratt. She started her career as a graphic artist and worked at the New York Public Interest Group for years and then worked as an editorial illustrator on assignment. More of her work can be seen at Beholder-art.com or kathyosborn.com.
Dale Cotton is a freelance photographer who specializes in the built environment. He photographs everything from manhole covers to street signs to the buildings of Frank Gehry. Dale has also worked as an editor, producer, and art director/designer in the book publishing industry in Seattle, New York, Boston, and Princeton.
ARTICLES BY DALE COTTON
Altered Spaces – Art & Architecture: Blowing Apart the Rectangle, Behind the Scenes at Frank Gehry’s New Building
Altered Spaces-From Warsaw Ghetto to Darfur
Altered Spaces – Art & Architecture: Shake Your Money Maker
Altered Spaces: Taliban Portraits
Altered Spaces – Sex, Art, Culture, and Princeton Modern Architecture: Inside Photographer Dale Cotton’s New Book
Lost and Found: Michelle Reader’s Portrayal of Over-Consumption