Tatiana Rathke, who graduated from Bellarmine with a communication major and an art minor, is putting all of those skills to work as a project coordinator and digital design assistant at Donna Lawrence Productions, a Louisville company that makes films and media installations for museums across the country. “I’m designing documents, taking photographs, doing historical story and image research, attending creative story concept meetings and editing scripts.” She’s recently worked on the King Tut traveling exhibition and projects for the National Law Enforcement Museum and The Hall of Presidents at Disney World. Outside work, she has a photo studio at the Hope Mills Collaborative Building and was one of 15 Louisville-based artists selected for Hadley Creatives, a professional development program supported by the Community Foundation of Louisville. While her plan is to make art her full-time job, “I’ve also come to realize that even when I go through periods where I’m making less art, I’m still an artist,” she said. “Being an artist is a mindset and is a personal perspective that I have on the world around me.”
How do you define creativity?
Creativity is listening to your own authentic truth and sharing it with the world. It is a courageous act. It’s the process of imagination in action. I feel my most creative when I let myself follow an idea that I come up with and figure out where it takes me, and a lot of times it takes me somewhere that I could never have planned for.
How did Bellarmine prepare you for what you’re doing now?
Bellarmine helped me build the technical software and fine art skills that I’ve been able to carry into my career as a photographer, artist and designer/coordinator at Donna Lawrence Productions. It was a safe space for experimentation, opened up my eyes to the world (through studying abroad) and showed me how collaborative art communities successfully work. I think maybe I expected that I would have solved my “artist imposter feeling” when I graduated, but I realize now that working through those feelings will be a lifelong plan. Doubts about my artist voice and vision pop up every once in a while, but I feel like I’ve learned through school and my community what tools I can use to override that negative thinking and be really brave by continuing to share my creativity.
What kinds of art do you create in your own studio space?
I like to do portrait photography work mainly, but I also use it to concept installation work, apply for grants, have mask-making parties and as a space that I can escape to when I need “me” time. It’s a second home that is there purely for my creative experimentation. My studio has giant windows that let in the most beautiful soft light. Because I share the space with two other artists, I also have access to shared lighting equipment so it’s been really fun to play and learn more about professional photo lighting. It’s the first time in my life I’ve had a space that’s meant purely for creative fun, and I intend to really dive into that inspirational feeling.
What is your favorite art medium?
Photography! It’s hard to pick only one favorite because there are times when I’m more drawn to building and collaging, but I feel the most confident with my photography because I’ve been doing it since I was in middle school. I like how photography allows me to work either with digital images or analog film. I love the paths it takes me down in post-production work, the ability it gives me to make something just for a photograph and how it looks when I print something out to hang on a wall. Even if I’m creating something else, like a headdress, I know that eventually I need to capture it in a photographic image.
How will Hadley Creatives support you as an artist?
Hadley Creatives is a creative cohort of artists from a variety of media who get to come together over a six-month period and learn how to enrich their professional lives together. I applied because I wanted to build a stronger artist community, learn how to talk about myself professionally and learn how I can help support other artists who are just starting off. Hadley Creatives has taught me that beautiful art is wonderful, but supporting the artists behind that art is really the key to continual creative growth. During a two-day retreat at the start of the program, we learned that every time we push to grow our inner artists, chase opportunities and share our progress, we’re carving a path for a future artist to make it. I feel like I’m on a journey where I’m in competition with myself to go to new creative levels and I also want to surround myself with others who are equally, if not more, successful. I’m so excited to be a part of that.
Pictured above: Float (2018) by Tatiana Rathke, featuring her frequent creative collaborator, Jennifer Greb ’13. See more at www.tatianarathke.com and on Instagram @tatianarathke_creative
By Carla Carlton | firstname.lastname@example.org