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Kathleen Roberts is the newest addition to the Prøve Gallery and Artist Collective, now springing into its second year. She is also the first writer and female, bringing a new sensibilities and vitality to this creative team.
EN: How did you come to get involved in the Prøve Collective?
Kathleen Roberts: I had been in Duluth for over a year when I moved away briefly to finish my studies in Classics at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. When I came back, I met Steven Read through happenstance. He was looking for a replacement member, since he would soon be leaving for graduate school in Pennsylvania, and I was looking for a way to get involved in the arts. After a brief internship, I was brought on board as a full member.
EN: Where did you grow up and how did you end up in Duluth?
KR: I grew up in Cranston, Rhode Island, the town with the greatest concentration of blue eye-shadow and dropped R’s in the nation. I first moved to Minnesota for college, and eventually came to Duluth to work for the Minnesota Conservation Corps, an AmeriCorps program that works for environmental conservation. My contract with them ended in 2010, but I was hooked on Duluth, and I’ve been here ever since.
EN: What attracted you to the arts?
KR: I have been writing for as long as I can remember. I love all forms of art, but my truest love is literature. When I came to Prøve, it was with the intention of giving written and spoken word a place in this already eclectic space. So far, I have done so by organizing a storytelling event featuring Rachel Nelson, Jean Sramek, and Bob Monahan and by founding our magazine, PRØOF, whose second issue will be out in January.
EN: What is your take on the Twin Ports arts scene?
KR: My God, the Twin Ports art scene is blowing up! I feel incredibly fortunate to have bumbled into the middle of a really exciting time in Duluth and Superior. It seems like every month I see new venues, shops, and ventures popping up. This coming May will be “Arts Month,” and I am so excited to see this new tradition beginning. When you throw a brand-new, independent record label (Chaperone) into the mix, I think that 2012 has been a year of serious and permanent growth for the arts scene here.
EN: What have you learned thus far from running a gallery?
KR: Running a gallery could be compared to, I don’t know, wrangling a rabid zombie cat herd. It’s a really tough job, and communication is vital, but often challenging. That said, nothing is more satisfying than watching a show go up, as work is delivered and comes together to create a cohesive space. After weeks of working on an exhibit, there’s nothing better than finally standing back, pouring a glass of wine, and watching the community come together to enjoy art.
EN: What prompted you to start the PRØOF magazine? What is your aim with this eZine?
KR: When I first joined, I had no ambitions of starting a publication. I wanted to begin to incorporate literary events into the gallery’s schedule, but the idea of creating a magazine had not crossed my mind. Shortly before he left, Steven brought up the idea and told me that he thought I was the one for the job. I was overwhelmed, and still am sometimes, but I am so glad that we just went for it. The first issue was almost 40 pages long, filled with art and writing, some of it from nationally acclaimed artists. As far as my goals, I am hoping to continue to have a varied and interesting group of contributors making it great. I am also entering the process of signing on advertisers so that we can put it into a limited print run. I’d love local businesses and artists to be able to pick up a copy of PRØOF.
EN: Do you make art as well, and if so, what kind?
KR: I have been writing poetry for about ten years now. I have not been widely published, but hey, I’m workin’ on it, and this past year I won a fairly significant literary prize, which was exciting in that it was my first time being financially compensated for creating art.
EN: Who have been your biggest influences thus far in your life?
KR: Other than my mother, father, and brother, who are all great inspirations to me, most of my major influences have been terrifyingly rowdy and/or weird people. As a teenager, I idolized Jack Kerouac and basically aspired to be a journeyman drunk. Fortunately, that career kind of fell through. At this point, I would say that my greatest modern literary influences are probably Bukowski, Faulkner, e.e. cummings, and Toni Morrison. I also love ancient writers, since they are not as bashful about philosophizing or making dirty jokes; my favorites are Lucretius, Ovid, and Cicero.