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Katherine Kadish: The Process Behind the Painting

Katherine Kadish in her studio
Katherine Kadish in her studio

Katherine Kadish is a Yellow Springs painter who’s worked professionally for over 40 years. She known for her strikingly colorful paintings and monotypes, and her work is owned by the Library of Congress and the Dayton Art Institute. She also has a commission for the new Dayton Public Library.  But Kadish has been living with an eye disease called Macular Degeneration since she was a teenager and she has very limited eyesight.

She recently finished a piece for a client in Dayton and that’s where Community Voices producer Daniel Gummel picks up the story for WYSO's Culture Couch series.

When I climb the stairs to Katherine Kadish’s studio in the old Clifton schoolhouse, she is standing a few feet back from the wall, looking at the painting she’s been working on for 2 months. There are two pieces of canvas, hanging side by side.

“[The clients] haven’t seen it at all and I have no idea if this is what they had in mind, but we’ll find out,” says Katherine.

I can tell Katherine is a little nervous waiting for her client to arrive, so while we wait we make small talk.

"I’ve been walking around my own garden a lot.  I think I’m turning into Monet except I haven’t made a pond...yet," she says. "I’m very conscious of color and shape relationships.  Hosta grows the best.  You need to come see it.  It is a little jurassic.”

When I ask if she has anything in common with Monet, Katherine smiles, “I’ve always admired him. I love his interests in water and reflections.  Everyone says his eyes were terrible and that’s why his work got loose.  I don’t believe that.  He could still see color, as I can see color, and you inhabit within you this sense of putting down paint.  It’s the only thing I do that involves my eyes that doesn't worry me, because I understand it.”

River Moving Water, one of Katherine Kadish's monotype paintings
Credit courtesy of Katherine Kadish
River Moving Water, one of Katherine Kadish's monotype paintings

Katherine Kadish with the Carrolls
Credit Daniel Gummel / WYSO
Katherine Kadish with the Carrolls

Soon after, Dr. Patrick Carroll and his wife arrive. He’s an ophthalmologist from Dayton and also Katherine’s  retina specialist.   He collects paintings and owns several of Katherine’s. 

“Katherine’s has an ability to do this and understand colors with her peripheral vision. Because her central vision doesn't function for her," says Carroll.

“I’ve had a lifetime to get used to it,” Katherine replies.

Katherine has had a lifetime to not only get used to living with a handicap, but to leverage it and paint bold colors on the canvas without hesitation.

You can see her work at the new Dayton Public Library opening this fall.

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