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ArtsChat Ohio

ArtsChat Ohio: OAC Staff Talks Artmaking "After Hours" (Part 1)

ArtsChat Ohio is an audio blog bringing you the latest news and updates from Ohio Arts Council staff members. These conversations are recorded to be enjoyed using the audio player below. A transcript and show notes are also included.

Audio transcript edited for clarity.

CAT: Hello, everyone! I'm Cat Sheridan, director of the Ohio Arts Council's Riffe Gallery, and I'm here with Katie Davis, the OAC’s arts programs coordinator.

KATIE: Hey, Cat!

CAT: We're here today to talk about the Riffe Gallery’s upcoming exhibition, After Hours: Artwork from State of Ohio Employees 2021. After Hours showcases the artwork and creative talent of state workers from across Ohio.

To lead up to the exhibition's opening on April 29, we're kicking off with a special series of mini ArtsChat Ohio episodes highlighting OAC employees’ artmaking processes and discussing how they create all kinds of art outside the office. So, let's get started.

This year’s After Hours exhibition has artwork by quite a few Arts Council staff members, including you, Katie.

KATIE: And you, Cat Sheridan! And, you know, I’d really love to know more about how the After Hours show came about what's the history behind it.

CAT: Well, the After Hours show is currently in its third iteration. The first show was in 1990. It was early on in the existence of the Vern Riffe Building and for that they decided to have a show exhibiting the works of workers that were in the Riffe Building. For the next iteration in 2017, they expanded it to all state workers, so that there was a greater diversity of folks across the state to really highlight the talent that's interspersed.

And it's always been important to spotlight the creative people that are really all around us, including state workers like yourself, Katie. Can you tell me a little bit about why it's important for you to make art outside your role as an arts administrator?

KATIE: Yeah, sure. My art practice is such a great balance to my role as an arts administrator. They're very different hats to wear, but they're also really connected. After helping artists in front of a computer screen for much of the day, it's very balancing for me just unplug, create, and be more physical.

It's kind of like exercise and meditation for my brain. The verbal part of my brain can stop, which sometimes that just really need a break. And I tap into a more intuitive and visual form of communication.

I really need my art practice to be a whole person, and it also helps me understand what artists need and experience out there in the world, because I am one of them.

And, Cat, can you talk about how directing the Riffe Gallery has influenced or changed your art practice?

CAT: Absolutely. As a part of the Ohio Arts Council team, and particularly with the gallery, I can't help but be influenced and change. The very language of arts in all forms is one that expands awareness, piques curiosity, pushes you to deepen your understanding. And in order to serve our exhibiting artists and our viewers, it's imperative that I jump wholeheartedly into expanding my knowledge, not just of our artists’ work, but the works that historically or contemporarily link, so that I can do justice in helping amplify their work, which I'll say is an art in and of itself.

Also, when leaning more fully into arts admin roles, I tend to put my artistic works to be more on the meditative and balancing side myself. And that's certainly the case in these last couple of years.

KATIE: That's great.

CAT: I wonder, Katie, could you share your experience and balancing motherhood and artmaking? Are they totally separate, or is that something the whole family gets in on?

KATIE: That's a great question. When the boys were really little, it was necessary to hide from them while I worked, or else I would never have finished any work or any paintings. I had to steal time from their naps or the weekends to make the work, but now I have a studio on the main living area of our house, so I’m more visible when I'm working.

I can work with the kids right beside me or in the other room. And I really don't use anything toxic, so I can work at the kitchen table, which sometimes I take over. And my youngest son, Oliver, he'll make little drawings that look a lot like my paintings, which is really cute. Whenever I'm doing a series, he's doing a series very similar to what I'm doing.

So, they're all artistic, but I really like everybody to have their own space, kind of separate space. I just make sure that they have their supplies and whatever they need. The only art supply that we all fight over is the electric pencil sharpener. That's a hot commodity in our house.

CAT: I love that.

KATIE: Yeah. And Cat, I think I remember your creative pursuits leading you into the kitchen this past year. So, what's the story behind those proofing bowls I see?

CAT: Oh, yes. So, “Tina” is my sourdough starter, and she was born March 18, 2020, and is still going strong, feeding us all and making delicious things.

To be honest, the pandemic kind of really stalled me in my creative practice, and so I pointed all of my creative energy toward this practice, similar to the way that I use ceramics to be meditative. I really just kind of transferred that into the kitchen, and then I have tasty results.

I recognized some years ago that one of my core values is deep caring for loved ones. So, baking bread was a really grounding way to allow me to focus my thoughts and energies and then give those tasty gifts to the folks that I love.

At a certain point, I wanted to be, like, super extra and get really fancy with my sourdough and the patterns that you can achieve with your proofing bowls. And a great way to do that is to make your own. Not a lot of folks do it, but I was like, ‘Hey, I have the tools, I’m a ceramicist, among other things, so let me take a shot at it.’

 So, there you go. They don't call it ‘culinary arts’ for nothing.

KATIE:  Yeah, that's great! I wish I lived closer to you.

CAT: Katie, I noticed your paintings are growing beyond their canvases and including some wall, maybe some installation elements. Some of which are explored in the works you have in After Hours. Can you tell us a little more about this evolution of your work in the exhibition?

KATIE: Yeah. So, right before the pandemic started, I was in the middle of a series called ‘Boundary Lines,’ where I was thinking about maps, colonialism, and the original boundary lines of indigenous communities that lived in Ohio.

And then, once I was confined to my home for a few months, I really just gave into my urge to work off of those panels and onto the wall. So, I broke the boundary lines of the paintings very literally. I took my materials of cardboard, paper, paint, string—kind of more domestic items that were in my home—and started creating large installations in my living room, my dining room, office, and my bedroom. My husband's really supportive and he just says, ‘Okay,’ when I take over a room. It got really out of control for a while, but I've reined it back in recently.

And having shows outside of my home like After Hours, it helps get the work out.

So, Cat, now it's my turn to ask you the same question. Can you tell me more about your work that is in the exhibition? I was surprised to learn that you are painter as well as a ceramicist.

CAT: Surprise! I can't just keep to one medium. I don't know if I've mentioned this, but I'm, like, really into art. It doesn’t matter if it’s visual, written, dance … really any way you can serve it up, I'm eating it. Give me a whole plateful, I want to try it.

I love to do portraits, and the three portraits in the show come from an exhibit that I did with my partner at a local arts venue called Streetlight Guild back in the Fall of 2019—before we knew the world was going to change. That show was called 2-Piece, and my partner and I narrowed down a list of artists in Columbus that we really wanted to celebrate for their phenomenal contributions to community.

And so, we ‘gave them their flowers now,’ and we thought, you know, what better way to celebrate someone than to immortalize them? So, in these three portraits, you'll recognize writers and poets Dionne Custer Edwards and Barbara Fant and visual artist Lisa McLymont.

KATIE: Oh, that is awesome! I'm so looking forward to seeing your work and all of the other amazing pieces shared by our fellow State of Ohio employees in After Hours. So, how can people view the exhibition?

CAT: Great question. All of the programming associated with the exhibition is free and online. Folks can follow us on Facebook for live and archived programs and register for upcoming programs at

KATIE: That’s great! I can't wait to tune in.

CAT: It's going to be fantastic!

Well, that wraps up our ArtsChat for today. Thank you again to Katie for joining me to talk about all things art and After Hours.

You can explore more of our work on the websites we’ve linked to in the Show Notes. And stay tuned for next week's episode where two more of our colleagues will talk about their artistic passions and their work in After Hours.

Show Notes

ArtsChat Ohio Audio File:
Ohio Arts Council's Riffe Gallery:
Bespoke proofing bowl by Cat Sheridan:
"Redline Your Fear" by Katie Davis:
Streetlight Guild:
Columbus Alive article about 2-Piece:
Riffe Gallery Facebook:
Riffe Gallery EventBrite:
Katie Davis' Artist Website:
Katie Davis: | 614-728-4421
Cat Sheridan's Instagram:
Cat Sheridan: | 614-728-2239

The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. Connect with the OAC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website at


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