Kate Vrijmoet

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Kate Vrijmoet
Born Kathleen Pontoski
Known for Painting

Kate Vrijmoet is an American artist who lives and works in Seattle, Washington.


Kate Vrijmoet began formal art studies at Moore College of Art, Philadelphia, taking weekend classes while attending high school (1982–1983). She went on to study at the School of Visual and Performing Arts at Syracuse University, and was invited to teach there in 1994, earning her MFA in 1997. In 2004 she studied painting with Evelina Brozgul at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and with Richard Ryan at Boston University from 2005 to 2006. After recognition in New York for her project, 50 Paintings in 50 Days,[1] her work was curated into a group show [2] receiving press in the New York Times[3] and the New York Journal News.[4] In 2010 she had her first solo exhibition at the Center on Contemporary Art CoCA[5] in Seattle, and was reviewed in the Seattle Times.[6] Her painting, Shotgun Accident[7] won third place in the 2010 Ecuador Biennale of Painting,[8] a decision that has recently caused controversy according to the Ecuador Newspaper El Telégrafo, which reported that many considered Vrijmoet the rightful first place winner.[9][10] Vrijmoet was one of 16 American artists whose work was included in the 5th Beijing International Art Biennale. Her painting, “Naked Snow Blower”, a part of Vrijmoet’s Accident's series, was exhibited in the National Museum of China beginning September 28, 2012.


Through paintings, installations and social art, Vrijmoet focuses on issues of consciousness, scale, accessibility and ownership. A student of anatomy since childhood, Vrijmoet has for three decades included life drawing in her daily practice. She is currently completing her Accident series and her Non-ordinary Reality series. In August, 2010, the Center on Contemporary Art in Seattle published a 42-page catalog for her solo show, Kate Vrijmoet: Essential Gestures.[11] In 2011 Vrijmoet's work was featured in a South Seattle Community College showing, and during a solo show at the LANN Museum in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

Her profile was featured in the inaugural issue of the Huffington Post Arts Section.[12] In an interview in the science and culture digest 3 Quarks Daily[13] she says of her work, “People walk around in an automatic processing mode, using their perception or recognition or highly over-learned stimuli that requires little or no processing. I want to challenge this. I want to awaken the senses. When the painting provides kinesthetic feedback the viewer can, in a sense, feel what they’re seeing, see what they’re hearing, hear what they’re feeling.”

In 2011 Vrijmoet’s installation piece “Mother May I…?” was exhibited at the Orange County Center on Contemporary Arts (OCCCA),in a show that was endorsed by Nicolas Bourriaud, who coined the term relational aesthetics Relational art. In 2012 this installation was featured in the largest artist-run, not for profit organization in Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Artists Waterfront Coalition’s (BWAC) juried show. “Mother May I…?,” — an interactive audio installment designed to address our fundamental sense of belonging — was awarded “Best Installation” by Charlotta Kotik, curator of the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Vrijmoet’s work has featured in New York City shows juried by curators of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Anne Strauss) and the Guggenheim (Nat Trotman).

In the catalogue essay, Elatia Harris writes of her work, “Any single image from the Accident series will freeze you where you stand. Motionlessly, you check yourself for parts and think, Oh, that’s the thing, the thing that happened to me, even if no one sees it. The Water paintings, on the other hand, will dislocate you – you are pulled, plunged and buoyed, seeing up and through and down.”[11] Maine writer and art critic, Dan Kany, writes Vrijmoet’s work takes a “supremely anti-modernist stance – following the idea that Modernism doesn’t privilege the artist/author over the viewer.”[11] A show of her Accident Series Paintings is scheduled in November 2013 at the Esvelt Gallery in Eastern Washington.


  1. ^ Susan Macura (November 2008) 50 Paintings in 50 Days: Harlem Valley Times
  2. ^ "For the Love of Art". Penrick Collections. Retrieved August 8, 2012. 
  3. ^ Susan Hodara (February 8, 2009), A Show of Heartfelt, Diverse Works, Sunday New York Times
  4. ^ Georgette Gouveia (Saturday, February 14, 2009), For the Love of Art in Peekskill: Making money isn’t the artist’ top priority at this juried show, The Journal News
  5. ^ CoCA (February 2010), Kate Vrijmoet: Essential Gestures
  6. ^ Michael Upchurch (February 18, 2010), Review: Abstract, figurative collide in Vrijmoet paintings, Seattle Times
  7. ^ “Press Release”
  8. ^ YouTube, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pup_aQgsLug&feature=player_embedded!
  9. ^ "Guayaquil Biennial arrives on the local art scene". El Telegrafo. Retrieved June 12, 2012. 
  10. ^ "Ecuador Newspaper reports controversy over last Biennale winners". Retrieved June 12, 2012. 
  11. ^ a b c CoCA (2010), Kate Vrijmoet: Essential Gestures
  12. ^ Ming Holden (June 18, 2010) What Does Ecuador Have to Do with Seattle? Huffington Post
  13. ^ Elatia Harris, (September 13, 2010) Kate Vrijmoet: A Non-ordinary Painting Trajectory, 3 Quarks Daily

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