Juxtaposing rendered human anatomy with graphic shapes, lines, and shadows, Kathryn Wingate aims to create a visual vocabulary to describe the infinite variations of how we consume reality. While studying Communication Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University, she quickly discovered a passion for painting, and in it, an outlet to explore her existential fascinations. Her surreal figure oil paintings depict abstract sensations that transcend the five senses and represent other invisible layers of our inner and outer realities.
Wingate’s work is a personal investigation into the relationship between the finite physical shape she occupies and the infinite space it floats through.
Wingate is an alumni from the McGuffey Art Center's 2020-2021 Incubator Program in Charlottesville, Virginia. Wingate currently is the Director of Curation at the IX Art Park in Charlottesville, Virginia.
I have always been interested in the variations of how people consume reality. My own personal experiences with synesthesia have always made me wonder how many other perceptual connections I unknowingly experience but lack the words to describe. Synesthesia is described as a “union of the senses,” and for me, most notably, this is how I experience color in relation to letters, numbers, shapes, and other visual stimuli. It is approximated that 4% of the population experiences some sort of synesthetic reaction. These connections are developed during early childhood when the brain begins forming correlations between sensory stimuli and other abstract concepts for the first time. Some experience a color when they hear a certain musical note, associate a specific smell with a specific person, or even experience different spatial depths when seeing a number. The variations are endless. Synesthesia is more or less the creation of a neurodivergent pathway to better understand and make sense of an individual’s reality. For the longest time I didn’t realize that most people didn’t experience the mental layers of color that I experience when I read. For example, when I see the letter “S,” I see with my eyes that the letter is printed in black, but with my mind, an “S” will always appear to be yellow. I vibrantly see the colors of each letter, just not with my eyes. This phenomenon makes me wonder, what other invisible layers of our own inner and outer realities exist that we haven’t yet discovered or put into words? To an earthworm who only perceives light, there is no way to explain to it the color purple. What other stimuli exist around us that we simply lack the sensory ability to identify? It is these unseen realms of perception that intrigue me and inspire many of my pieces. My paintings serve as an investigation into these abstract sensations that transcend the five senses; a way to visually translate concepts I lack the words to describe. I aim to create a visual vocabulary for the infinite variations of how we digest our surroundings and how it feels to exist inside our physical forms in a nonphysical space.
See all of Kathryn Wingate’s available works in our Museum Gallery Store