Pandemic isolation is the driving force behind artwork from a gallery near Schuylkill Haven

September 12 – SCHUYLKILL HAVEN – During the COVID-19 pandemic, Katie Hovencamp has channeled her frustration of spending long periods of isolation at home into a series of multimedia artworks reflecting family life and gender roles.

His art exhibit, titled “Homeward Bound,” is on view through October 9 at Cabin Contemporary, an art gallery in North Manheim Twp. The multidisciplinary exhibition offers a unique look at domestic life, with pieces depicting, among other things, dangerous and sharp aprons and kitchen utensils.

Hovencamp said “Homeward Bound” was inspired by the long periods of “enforced isolation” people have had to endure during the pandemic.

“So there’s this disturbing notion that would happen being confined to a space,” she said, “and in everyone’s case, we were all sort of stuck in some household space. I so wanted to reflect this strange, unsettled notion in the works.

“It has a lot to do with questioning the identity of being cooped up in a house and what it means.”

The show is made up of 16 pieces, all for sale. Prices range from $100 to $600. Hovencamp said “Homeward Bound” is a good representation of her work, which often addresses feminist themes and issues of traditional gender roles.

“A lot of this work has taken place during COVID,” she said. “I was really inspired by being cooped up at home and wondering what home really was and how much your identity was affected by home.”

The exhibit includes a series of aprons emblazoned with the word “Domestic”, in a typeface similar to those on prison uniforms. Another piece, titled “Pin Up”, is a sculpture made of fabric, plastic and pins, and also functions as a thumbtack holder.

“I did this because I wanted to think about women and language, and how women’s voices can be restricted,” Hovencamp said.

Hovencamp takes the domestic theme further in a series of weaponized kitchen items, which include a cookie cutter flail, landmine pie and spiked rolling pin.

Although primarily a sculptor, Hovencamp also produced a few pen-and-ink drawings criticizing “pejorative” perceptions of women.

One of these pieces, entitled “Airhead”, is a very detailed drawing of a woman with bubbles for a head. Another, titled “Horse”, shows a similar depiction of a woman with a horse’s head.

“This one, I wanted to make it look like the horse was laughing and make that line my own,” Hovencamp said, “like, ‘Oh, you gonna call me horseface?’ So it’s a bit more confrontational, but funny at the same time.”

A resident of Carbondale, Hovencamp teaches art at Northampton Community College in Bethlehem. She is also a resident artist at the Banana Factory Arts Center in Bethlehem.

Although she initially envisioned herself becoming a painter or draftsman, Hovencamp became obsessed with sculpture in college and never looked back. She eventually ventured into other media, developing the brand of multidisciplinary artwork she is known for today.

“I like to call it ‘thinking with my hands’ every time I do something,” she said. “It’s a process where I can understand things, how I exist in the world, and create a conversation with my artwork. It’s something that’s been really important and has come over the years .”

Looking ahead, Cabin Contemporary will be holding its next artist exhibition, featuring works by Easton-based painter Joseph O’Neal, from October 16 to November 13.

Cabin Contemporary is a small white cabin owned by local artist Lance Rautzhan. The space is open by appointment only, and appointments can be made by emailing cabincontemporary@gmail.com.

Contact the author: hlee@republicanherald.com; 570-628-6085