[The above image is “Untitled” by Shohei Katayama.]
Meet Shohei Katayama, one of Louisville’s talented young artists (shoheikatayama.com). The Japanese-American sculptor believes in giving back to the community, whether it is through art or by Asian culture education. You can find his work at the PYRO Gallery.
LEO: Saying you make sculpture doesn’t seem to cover all that you create. What do you call your work?
Shohei Katayama: I’m not sure either. Instalptures? A fine boundary between sculptures and installations. It’s art.
LEO: When did you start making art?
SK: I started to learn how to draw and sculpt in 2009, but the actual art producing came after I graduated from Bellarmine University in 2010. I was a stone carver.
LEO: What is the most unusual item you have used in your art to convey an idea?
SK: In 2013 I participated in “Pairallels,” a group exhibition at the Jewish Community [Center of Louisville]. Each of the artists submitted a partially completed work and swapped it with another anonymous piece. I stacked six Budweiser cans wrapped in molted snakeskin to make a connecting dialogue between venom and the “poison” I ingested daily.
LEO: You also have your own gallery (ThinkBox Contemporary, 1401 S. Third St. on Magnolia). Why did you decide to do that?
SK: Two things: Old Louisville is a bizarre yet interesting place — you find the wealthiest entrepreneurs, apartments filled with college students or the homeless crew who ask for change and cigarettes. As a practice for urban regeneration, I figured bringing in a creative venue in the heart of the location could subtlety change the area’s social discourse. I also wanted to create an experimental venue that approached a residential project space based concept — so rather than focusing on the traditional commercial aspect, a gallery that supports exhibitions with an emphasis for dialogue. As the gallery owner, I enjoy providing a location that acts as a catalyst for spreading ideas. I don’t have any intention of asking for a cut if an artist makes a sell. If viewers are interested in a piece, I send them directly to the artist. Where some traditional galleries may have limitations, I simply want creatives to have the opportunity to design whatever they want and the freedom to execute it. Anything goes in this gallery, pretty much. For the gallery space, go to facebook.com/thinkboxcontemporary. There’s also a QR code in front of the venue to check up on current or future exhibitions.
LEO: How do you go about finding artists and curating exhibitions?
SK: It used to be close friends or artists I made acquaintance with; in the past years, though, individuals eventually started contacting me after the renovations. As of recently, Andrew Cozzens, a local artist who’s affiliated with numerous art organizations in the Louisville art scene, has been contacting regional to international artists. In that regard, one can consider him as the curator or vice president. It’s an unorthodox space, so roles are a bit ambiguous.
LEO: Anything else you want to say?
SK: Live and breathe art!