Q&A: Kate Barmen


Kate McKinley

Kate Barmen won the Harper Faculty Award Award with her original piece.

Kate McKinley, Scribe Reporter

When I sat down to interview Kate Barmen, a senior at Schaumburg, I was nervous. I knew that Kate had won the Harper Faculty Award. However, when we sat down for our interview I learned that my fears were actually unfounded.

Kate presented herself to not only be passionate but also compassionate. During the interview she repeatedly demonstrated that she was knowledgeable and kind through her words and the way that she said them.

Saxon Scribe: What kind of art do you do?
I do mostly 2-D work and the majority of that is either mixed media or oil painting.

Saxon Scribe: What inspired you start painting and other forms of art?
It’s weird because I don’t ever really remember a singular point where I started making art. It’s always been sort of something I’ve done innately. It’s not very well and not something that I’ve taken very seriously but it’s just been always been with me. And it’s only been the last couple of years that I’ve actually sat down and been like, “OK, now I need to actually make things that have some purpose.” I don’t ever really remember a singular point where I started making art. It’s always been sort of something I’ve done innately.

Saxon Scribe: What is your favorite part of making art?
Probably just the process of doing it. it’s very cathartic just to sit down and just make something. Just because you get lost in a little bit, it’s almost like meditative. just being in the head space of fixating on something other than yourself and just doing it. And a lot of my work is very repetitive and relies a lot on patterns and little tiny details. You can really just fixate and concentrate on something for a really long time, so it’s nice to do that.

I don’t ever really remember a singular point where I started making art. It’s always been sort of something I’ve done innately.”

— Kate Barmen

Saxon Scribe: What is your favorite piece you’ve done?
This one [pictured below], it’s very different then the majority of what I make but I like it because it was this really garbage drawing that I had done under it and I was like this is disgusting I hate it and so I painted on top of it with red and then did all the little blocks of color and I like it a lot more because I think that it was nice to destroy something old and make something new.  And because I wasn’t trying to make anything good, it just kind of existed without trying to make it something.

Saxon Scribe: Where are you hoping to take this in the future?
I don’t know if I’m ever going to take it anywhere.  I wish that I could state some motivation for what I want to do with it or what my goal with doing it is but I don’t know. And I don’t know what I’m gonna do with my life or if any of it is going to involve art I don’t know where to take it really.

Saxon Scribe: What are some challenges you have faced because of your art?
Making anything can be challenging because of the obstacles while making it. You have to work through so many visual issues; it’s like you’re making a problem to solve… A lot of times you’ll spend about 300 hours on something and you’ll think, “This is horrible I hate it!”  That’s emotionally challenging because you’re just stuck with something that you’ve expended so much energy into.

Saxon Scribe: What inspires you?
This is like super cliché but, nature. I walk around Busse Woods a lot, and I like seeing things that are bigger than I am. I feel like being outside and being in [nature] can sort of get you in the right head space.  It’s important to just see less of yourself.  That way, I’m seeing more outwardly. And it’s also just nice to look at plants.

Saxon Scribe: What do you wish the students at Schaumburg knew about art?
There are a lot of things that I wish people knew about art, but I think it’s a lot more interesting to see people’s different perspectives even if they are completely opposing to mine. But, I do wish that every student would take AP Art History because it’s such an important class, best class I ever took in high school. I feel like if you have that baseline of culture and art, you’re set.

Saxon Scribe: On a lighter note, what would the name of your debut album be?

Album #1

Saxon Scribe: That’s pretty simple. Why Album #1?

When you think about it, bands are trying to be original and they end up sounding the same. Album #1 is original. It also suggests that I’m going to have a follow-up

Saxon Scribe:: What would your spirit animal be? Why?

A possum, obviously.

Saxon Scribe: Obviously.  Could you be friends with a garden gnome? Why or why not?

Disgusting! Absolutely not. They are too small to trust. They could get in everywhere and into everything. They could be right here, listening and you wouldn’t know.

Saxon Scribe: Which movie character would you like to punch? Why? 

Gabriela from High School Musical. She’s too likable. She’s like a cyborg or something.

Saxon Scribe: What animal do you hate that other people love? Why? 

I’m not a big fan of giraffes. Their necks are too long to constitute a reputable creature; I feel like they are unearthly.

I have no doubt that Kate Barmen will be successful at whatever she decides to do in life. I feel that Kate is the perfect representation of “what she tackles, she conquers” and as she grows as a person and as an artist, I believe that she will have no trouble doing anything she wants to in the future.

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