When Art Meets Technology, Sketches Come Alive to “Talk”

Wednesday Apr 1st, 2020

kate sikorski blog

Integrating art with computer science and physics, Kate Sikorski’s drawings make waves - with both vibration and innovation.

Los Angeles-based artist Kate Sikorski, Erie Arts and Culture’s latest visiting artist in residence, concluded her residency on 3/24/2020. Though the tail end of her residency was impacted by the current pandemic, Kate created a plethora of new work while in Erie and collaborated with many local and regional community members to create something truly unique and beautiful. The work that Kate created while in residence is slated to be exhibited in May at a gallery show in Los Angeles.

Kate’s work experiments with ways of portraying dialogue, openness, listening, agency, personhood, and collaborative representation. The work she created while in residence represents the faces of Erie in shared speech; characterized by a more democratic balance of vulnerability and power between artist and subject. Kate interviewed approximately two-dozen members of the community, and met many more. 

Kate documented the interviews, which were also recorded, through dialectical portrait drawings.This work builds upon a previous series of Kate's, "Fusiform Gyrus,"  in which frames were equipped with external speakers to play audio clips from the interviews. One of the objectives that Kate aimed to accomplish while in residence was to use microprocessors, custom coding, and conductive paint to make the sketches vibrate within the frames - projecting outward the voices of the subject without the use of an external speaker.


During her residency, Kate worked with Armando Reyes of Lake Erie Woodworks to build tech compatible frames. Kate also spent several days on the campus of Allegheny College, where she worked with Assistant Professor Byron Rich, an interdisciplinary artist who integrates science, data, and technology into his work. Realizing this was a good opportunity for students to apply what they're learning through course work, Byron invited students to help problem solve and assist Kate with building and coding the tech components. 

Kate had an idea, and we had the tools. The Allegheny Lab for Innovation and Creativity is a hub for the type of interdisciplinary thinking that Kate's work embodies. With the help of Adam Cook, a very talented computer science student, we were able to integrate computer science, physics, and art to help Kate fulfill her ambitions for the project, said Byron. “Allegheny strives to bring together what are traditionally considered opposing disciplines, and creatively solve problems.”

Plans originally called to mount an exhibition of Kate's work for public viewing. The Erie Downtown Development Corporation provided Erie Arts & Culture with access to the 2nd floor of 10 E 5th Street, the building that also houses Glass Growers Gallery. Though the public show had to be cancelled, Kate still fully mounted the work so that it could be shared online. 

While in Erie, Kate visited three inner-city non-profit organizations, the Inner City Neighborhood Art House, the YMCA of Greater Erie's Teen Center, and the Multi Cultural Resource Center.  When pieces featuring subjects from Erie sell, Kate will donate a percentage of the sale to one of those three organizations. Kate selected organizations that serve populations who are often negatively impacted as a result of gentrification. Subjects of Kate's work were asked to select which organization they'd like the sale of their portrait to benefit. Adding a unique twist to art commerce, the person purchasing the work is given the responsibility of determining what percentage is retained by Kate and what percentage is donated to a charitable organization. 

Below is a virtual "speed-through" video of Kate’s show. 
A special thank you to the Erie Downtown Development Corporation for providing the space for Kate’s show.


This residency program is a collaboration with Long Road Projects, with funding provided through a private grant from The Erie Community Foundation. Every artist is expected to create a fine art edition while in residence. To create her edition, Kate was utilizing the resources available through the Erie Public Library’s IdeaLab and by collaborating with Ashley Pastore and Alex Anthes at Grounded Print + Papershop. The closing of non-life sustaining businesses in Pennsylvania prevented Kate from completing her edition. She is now working on it from her home studio in Los Angeles. 

To learn more about Kate, please visit her website at katesikorski.com or follow her on instagram at @kate_sikorski.

Erie Arts & Culture

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