Kacy Latham was born and raised in the small town of Munday, Texas, where she still currently resides. She studied theater at Midwestern State University and now paints, with a focus on the complexities of abstract expressionism… though she tries not to make her art feel like work, like something she has to sell, or she loses inspiration.
“Curiosity is the very best teacher. The world tries to sell us predictable paths to our dreams… there is no formula… there are no guarantees. The only choice we have is to jump in and live wholeheartedly… this is our life, and we can wait for life to happen, or we can grab the keys and drive forward. Too many people are waiting for God, fate, or magical fairies to make life wonderful. We can’t depend on those things; else we will miss our chance.”
Kacy took a break from her wholehearted work, her family (husband Wesley, 10-year-old son Kyson and eight-year-old son Luke) and her home (a 100-year-old house that was once a hospital – Her kitchen was once the operating room, and she parks her vehicles in the old ambulance bay!) to tell us a bit about her artistic life.
When did you first realize you wanted to make art for a living, and how did this all come to fruition?
I think I first wanted to make art for a living when I was a very little girl. Unfortunately, I didn’t have access to art classes in my super small school. I was fortunate to have a mother who was the high school theater teacher. With my mom’s pro art influence, I did get to do anything I wanted: tap dance classes, choir, piano lessons, band and poetry & prose in UIL. I did anything I could related to the arts, but my painting and drawing was usually limited to my book covers and scribbles on notebook pages. I did get to paint my first school mascot mural for pay at the age of 15.
Is being an artist what you always wanted to do?
Deep down, I knew I wanted to be a visual artist…always. I took a very long, roundabout route back to my first love. It actually happened because I have a need to create and it’s really hard to theatre by yourself in a small farming community. I kinda stumbled into a freelance career as a graphic designer and illustrator for over a decade. Then, I began to feel burned out. I started to wonder what I would create for myself, if there weren’t any clients. I first realized that I didn’t want to sit in front of a computer anymore. So, I ordered some canvases and brushes and just started.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I find my inspiration from starting with one stroke. I try to let one stroke lead to the next. I rarely plan the outcome. I feel like I’m watching it grow and then responding with my next move. If it looks too planned and perfect, I paint over the whole thing.
Tell us a little bit about your workspace: Do you have a studio? Is classical music blaring? Do paint splatters cover every surface?
I have an old house [It’s 100 years old and once served as a hospital; her kitchen was the operating room, and she parks her vehicles in the old ambulance bay!], and the upstairs is my studio. It’s really cool and funky with a huge balcony outside, and I can literally see the whole town from up there. I have rocking chairs and a porch swing there, too. It’s a pretty sweet setup. I try to keep it tidy, but most of the time, it looks like a monster ate an art store and a garage sale and then puked everywhere. When I’m in my “flow” state, I lose track of time and space… then it’s like I wake up and wonder how the heck this mess got there.
On average, how long does it take to finish a piece?
Finished pieces? When is a piece finished? Sometimes it’s a few hours…sometimes weeks and months. Sometimes a piece is “arguing” with me, so I’ll set it aside or hang it in my living room until “we” can come to an “agreement”. Sometimes it stays the same, sometimes I figure out just what it needs, and sometimes I start over.
What is the most challenging part of your work?
The most challenging thing about being a small-town artist is a three-part issue. First of all, I’m cut off from the “art world” physically and can’t participate in as many shows and events as I want. I also can’t run out and buy supplies when I need them. The closest art store is about 80 miles away.
The second part that makes it difficult is distraction. My kids, husband, family and friends are up-close and personal. I sort of have to be a hermit to get work done, but I’m still human and there are a million little things that pull me off track. I don’t have the luxury of distance to buffer myself from the people I love. Boundaries are important, but I can’t be heartless and turn it off. Nieces have birthday parties, husbands have plans, kids have homework, and there are many micro-interactions each day that cause me to feel pulled in multiple directions. It’s hard.
The third part is living in a conservative farm community. I get lots of love and support, but my hometown isn’t exactly a Mecca of free thought or full of contemporary art collectors. I do feel like an oddball much of the time. I’m pretty sure I’m considered the eccentric town weirdo…like a lonely platypus in a chicken coop.
But, living in a small town isn’t all-bad for me as an artist. The cost of living and my husband’s job allow me to have a great workspace and the freedom to be an artist. I could never afford to do this in a city where it costs so much more. Also, I get the best of both worlds. Because of the Internet, I can have my feet in Small Town, Texas, and yet my brain and my art can reach people around the world. I also have connections in bigger art markets and can drive to the city to participate in shows and so on. Being an artist here isn’t impossible…it’s just a bit limiting. The good thing is that I can easily drive to [the Dallas-Fort Worth area] and leave my kids here with my family with no worries about their happiness or safety. I just have to be selective about my time, focus and energy.
Do you have any projects, shows or news you’d like to mention?
I had my first solo show this last September and am planning two more. I’ll have a solo show in Abilene this spring and a solo show in April in the downtown Bishop Arts district in Dallas this April. I’m also looking forward to entering a few select juried shows here in Texas and a couple in the Northeast. I’m also planning a show with a well-established West Texas art legend, but the details of that are still in the works.