Los Angeles, California, November 29, 2020, ZEXPRWIRE, American photographer Kat Alyst is skyrocketing in the art world, becoming known for conceptual art that meets nostalgia, she has portrayed herself and others as seemingly apathetic subjects longing for what’s to come. As well, she has exhibited a sneak peek to few finished pieces to her upcoming exhibition, “someone is trying to tell you something”, launching in 2021. There is a very curious plot of emotion in her work, one that gravitates towards the mystery of something hidden underneath layers of colors and stoic faces, with that in a sense add to the magnetic layers of hidden symbols and imagery. She spoke with us in this interview about the continued efforts in projects she has taken on and gives more insight to the imagery she is creating.
In this upcoming show, Alyst combines genius details that portray stylized memories and real-life events endured in the previous years. With a mix of vivid, intense color and surreal imagery, Alyst spins a web of seemingly quirky, truly bizarre, and at the same time, serious take on a contemporary world that can only exist in “Someone Is Trying To Tell You Something”. Alyst has so far created a genre of exuberant, exaggerated, and frighteningly beautiful imagery where she finds herself participating in zany activities with many more messages to come…
First we see a purple color palette in one body of work, which shows an enchanting forest scene. There’s a haze and a mystery in the image upon immediate viewing, with columns and angelic statues surrounding Alyst’s self portrait figure, that lies on a soft bed of purple flowers. Candles surround her muted body, giving the feeling we are looking into what seems to be a funeral or sacrificial setting.
What is the title of this work called?
“It’s still a working title… and I may actually reshoot this while the grass is still alive,” she says. “So far I have it down to three titles, but all say the same thing in a more clever or direct way.”
Can you tell us what that is, or is it best we wait?
“You’re special, so I could say since I showed you a secret preview anyway. More or less the image is about my least favorite color being violet.”
In the next image we see Alyst covered in pink body paint in an all green room. There is a toilet, a plunger, and vintage VHS camcorder on a tripod—all in the same color green. Alyst wears a pink hairstyle and bizarre posture and facial expression while sitting on the toilet and facing the camcorder. The storyline and inventiveness Alyst brings to this picture, seems like it could only stem from a real life experience.
Did you build this set or shoot on a location?
“I built this set out of plywood and painted everything. The toilet came from Craigslist, and was free, the rest was just found around where I am currently or from a pawnshop. I shot this in a garage where it was built.”
This one feels very personal for you—is that the case, or is this just bits and pieces of your imagination portrayed in a fun and strange image?
“It’s based on a real experience from when I was like three years old. It’s a long story and pretty personal to get into detail, but I put a twist on it with a stylized color palette and wanted to paint my skin pink to compliment with the green colors of the setting. I also wanted to originally cover myself in salmon paint, but couldn’t get it to mix right so went with pink. I felt like any other colors would easily associate as the wrong message. Example, ‘blue skin’ is a smurf, ‘yellow skin’ is like The Simpsons, and so on.”
Kat Alyst was born in East Texas (b. unknown), and enrolled into art school at Stephen F. Austin State University. Upon entering college, Alyst felt torn between going to college or running away to New York to pursue an artist career. “I was so lost,” she tells us, “as many eighteen year olds are no matter what their background… I had a war in my mind and was a loose cannon, but tried to keep a good heart.”
A little birdy told us you actually live in New York right now, but it’s hard to find online where you actually do live. Can you clarify if that little birdy is right or wrong?
Alyst laughs, “Is that so? Well, I suppose I’ll let the mystery linger a little more, life is more fun that way anyway.”
You are so interesting to hear on audio. You don’t seem to have an accent that tells us you’re really from Texas, or that you’ve been living up north… such an enigma…
“I used to have the deepest country accent in school. I worked hard to even it out to have hardly any accents at all. Sometimes the Texas accent does creep up though,” she laughs.
Thank you for sharing your preview with us… for the last image we wanted to know where your inspiration came from?
“This image shows pieces of my life from New Orleans. I really can’t get into the specifics with this one just for certain reasons, but the year I spent there was a huge display smoke and mirrors for me. I love sayings and idioms, so a lot of my work will involve such sayings like that where possible.”
We see decaying walls of two-toned colors, religious imagery mixed with odes to Black Magic, vials with mysterious red liquids in them, and literal smoke and mirrors adorning the frame. Decaying florals surround Alyst who holds a knife to her neck. “The tattoo on my neck isn’t real, but I would love to get it one day. I wanted to place a cherub tattoo on my neck to symbolize my silence being inflicted. For me, the knife to my neck indicates the male figures, who silenced me in many ways. I became one with both of my abusers, finding myself protecting them while enduring a silent struggle I didn’t know yet that I was going through until I got away.”
Wow, well I think your vulnerability really shows in these that we have seen. They all have a different feeling upon viewing them, but correlate into the world of a cataclysm.
“Funny you say that, my BFA show was titled ‘Kataklysm’.”
Well your name is definitely symbolic and it’s own brand, that’s for certain. Your legal name really is, first name, Kat, last name, Alyst?
“Yes it really is, but I did change it. My name used to be Katrina, but everyone always called me Kat.”
Incredible! Talk about a reinvention. How much more work do you plan to create before your official debut?
“Originally I said ten bodies of work for one show, but I’ve already thought of some more ideas that will be more imagery. I’m trying to document this all by video too, but since it’s mostly just me creating this, I can’t be sure to remember. I get very deep into the creative process so I sort of get lost for hours and forget everything else.”
We hope we get an invite. When are you going to be finished?
“I’m not sure,” laughs Alyst, “I sort of launched this message for 2021 to give myself a deadline. Otherwise, I would just be picking it apart and never getting done. But yes, you will be invited. I hope to have it in Los Angeles or New York first.”
Ah so you work well under pressure! Creating diamonds isn’t easy. Kat, you’ve been a delight to speak with and we wish you all the best. You’re such a light and we want to keep up with your work online. Can you drop your website and social media handles for us and readers?
“My website is www.mynameiskat.com and all of my social media is under @katinthecloudz. I mostly post to Instagram but try to update everywhere possible. Thank you guys for the chat, you’ve been great.”