The pandemic may have pressed pause on artist Katherine Lampert’s biggest exhibition yet, but trust us—this nature-inspired artist is one to watch.
Artist Katherine Lampert’s semiabstract paintings spring from her fascination with patterns found in the natural world.
With a growing portfolio of multilayered works (not to mention experience as a textile designer for brands like Holly Hunt and SHIIR Rugs), painter Katherine Lampert was set to make a splash with the fossil-inspired exhibit Pattern in Nature: A Bridge Between Art and the Natural World at Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. Then the pandemic hit. The museum may be closed and the exhibit on hold, but Lampert’s work still compels. As she waits—and continues to create—we catch up with the Chicago-based artist.
What inspires you about nature? The intricate shapes and vibrant colors I study fascinate me. We live on a planet suffering from calamitous climate change, digitization to the point we hardly speak in person, and now this pandemic rattling our collective nerves. If properly nurtured, the earth can sustain us and be restorative. In my work, I sort through these ideas, while in my life, I am constantly in search of a more authentic analog experience.
What fascinates you in particular about the baculites fossil that the exhibit is based on? The baculites fossil is all that remains of a sea creature that went extinct around the same time as the dinosaurs, about 65 million years ago. The fossil has a lacelike pattern that is formed by the sutures that were in this animal’s exoskeleton. Baculites started out very tiny and had to grow quickly to protect themselves from predators, building new chambers on their shell as they grew. The contour patterns, which mark the different chambers, are not only beautiful but remind me of both the physicality and fragility of life.
How has the pandemic influenced your work? When schools closed, I had my preschooler with me 24/7. She always wanted to help with whatever I was doing, so I created projects for her that related to pattern and symmetry in nature. We both enjoyed this exercise so much that we decided we wanted to share what we were doing with more people, so together we created our first guided art project video for kids.
What is coming up for you in 2021? I’m hoping, of course, that the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum will reopen in the spring so I’ll be able to share the work in my show in person. In the meantime, I’m excited to continue my residency at the Hyde Park Art Center through the fall of 2021. I’m also planning a new video series to share in case we must socially distance through next year, as well as a pop-up exhibit. I’m feeling very grateful.