“I’m really interested in the interplay between our physical bodies and the psychologies of our minds”
The screen on my computer is glitchy because my wifi in Sydney fucking blows, regardless of the exponentially growing rent prices. I’m sitting, staring at a pixelated image of one of my nearest and dearest arty friends; Kayla Sutton, a multidisciplinary artist based in Mullumbimby, NSW. We decided to chat via Skype so I could interview her about her artistic practice and where she is heading with her latest project, K-SUT Studio; a clothing label directed at making Sutton’s art more accessible to a wider range of people. I think there’s something poetic to say about the irony of not being able to see each other clearly, when Kayla’s work is centred around the idea of humans and their multifaceted capability for alternate personalities.
If you know Kayla’s work, you know it’s style, a dreamy, floating woman or an androgynous figure floating in a scene from Kayla’s imagination. Sometimes this scene is a negative space, filled with inspired patterns and a lot of line work, and in some pieces, such as ‘Looks That Penetrate’ (2017), the background is filled with a scene from Kayla’s memory. I wonder constantly about where Kayla has drawn inspiration from as I connect with it in a really raw way, and find myself lost in her scapes, a feeling that I’m certain she intended for her audience. “Experiencing states of mind through the body” is a concept that Kayla says isn’t new within the artistic world. She likes to explore not only the mood the body takes when in an altered state of mind, but through making masks, and distorting the bodies of the humans depicted in her work. Kayla has resonated with the Japanese principle of “The Three Faces”, that is, the face you show to the world, the face you show to your closest friends and family and then the face that is just for you to see. “I just think we are constantly performing in our public life, whether it’s in the workplace, whether it’s online, whether it’s in certain social situations…you’re constantly kind of performing a version of yourself. I became fascinated with that idea because I felt like I was, I am, constantly having to work myself up to put on a particular face say, to go to work and act in a certain way when like, I come home and I’m just like totally depressed (laughs)”. This feeling is definitely not something that is isolated to Kayla alone. I believe we can all relate to this feeling of alienation and performance. And perhaps knowing that we are all suffering from an internal battle of contradictory personalities is an integral quality that allows for genuine connection. Kayla goes on to say that some of her artwork stands as a constant enquiry into herself, particularly her experience of living with anxiety and depression.
Kayla moved around a lot growing up in and around Melbourne, which has played a hand in creating a history of an almost transitory lived experience. In her adult life, she has chosen to spend her time in Sydney, Arizona, Indonesia, and Mullumbimby. It’s hard to imagine that a constant state of literal movement in your physical body wouldn’t have an impact on your artistic practice, and in the case of Kayla’s work, this state of flux relating to movement has allowed for her artwork to follow suit. Although a lot of pieces are done via screen printing, Kayla has been formally trained in painting, drawing, and has a history of graphic design which is where the fluidity of her work, and the gestural quality of a lot of figures comes from. Kayla states that there is a certain freedom that comes with painting, and it’s something she is looking at expanding into a bit more. As well as painting intuitively, Kayla is launching a clothing line in late July. K-SUT Studio will be releasing a limited range of clothing items that are all printed using ethical materials in NSW. Keep an eye out for what you can get your filthy little mitts on via her socials.
Tips for budding artists (especially women/enby/trans artists)?
Music for planning, sketching, and making your art?
What do you do to fill your time when you arenʼt making art?
I like to see live music, go to the beach and roam op shops for unique trinkets and old picture books or magazines
Where can I buy your art?
I usually sell my work at exhibitions but an online store is currently in the works for K-SUT STUDIO where youʼll be able to buy my work on t-shirts and other lifestyle items.
Artists who inspire you?
Tadanori Yokoo, Yayoi Kasuma, Lister, Broken Fingaz, Elena Stonaker, KrisChau, Gertrude Hermes.
For more of Kayla’s work check out:
Cover and inset artwork by Kayla Sutton.
Inset photography by Thea Elder