Today we’d like to introduce you to Kat Dison Nechlebová .
Hi Kat, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
My father was a Colonel in the Army, and being the daughter of a higher-ranking military officer kept me relocating about the Delta fairly consistently throughout my youth. When you move with that frequency, it gets confusing and affects your sense of permanence; however, I found that the one constant in my life was creating art. That led me to a career as an artist. When I began art school in Kansas City, I felt as though I finally found myself; I found my community of misfits and creatives and began exhibiting my art directly after graduation while working as an art teacher to make ends meet.
When I taught art, I realized how many of my students found their safe space in the art classroom, and it reminded me of how difficult it was to navigate life as an adolescent. Art helped me find my place during a time of instability, and here I was experiencing it all over again through the lens of a teacher. It ultimately compelled me to explore the limits of art functioning as a psychological tool for wellness. As a result, I ended up moving to New Mexico to pick up master’s degrees in counseling and art therapy, emphasizing transpersonal psychotherapy.
What captured my attention most during that time was learning how studies in modern interpersonal neurobiology, Jungian psychology, existential-phenomenology, and psychotherapy correlated with conceptualizing art and the psyches of individuals. That encouraged a major shift in my art practice. I started using my experiences as both an artist and therapist to portray human behavioral patterns visually and experientially, and ultimately attempting to generate something akin to tangible models to understand unconscious behaviors.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Definitely not; life always has and always will offer struggles. I was working in private practice in Denver when the pandemic hit, and just like that, my art exhibitions and commissions were postponed, clients were afraid to spend money on psychotherapy, and I had to figure out how to help others when I wasn’t okay. With that said, I learned to sublimate those complexities and am constantly trying to evolve in my career to keep up with whatever tries or does knock me down.
Anyone who ran their own business during the pandemic has war stories, and all of us shared this existential dread from that. During those (dare I say) “unspeakable” times, I went into my art studio to process how I was feeling or avoid emotion altogether. It wasn’t easy; it was a struggle. I was creatively blocked and had no idea of which direction to move toward—Essentially none of of us in the mental health field were trained to handle a global pandemic. Natural disasters, trauma, grief, depression, sure, we can do that; there wasn’t a class or chapter or tutorial on drawn-out global catastrophes.
Eventually, I was able to put my life back in motion. I knew I needed to do something creative, so I forced myself back into studio and sewed over 300 masks to give to local Denver businesses. Webinars on how to work more effectively with individuals during the pandemic eventually became available, and I learned alternative, remote ways of practicing art therapy with my clients. I began to live broadcast my art performances and had my first remote solo art exhibition. I can’t think of anyone that’s had a smooth go of it, pandemic or not. You do what you can to get up, adapt, and keep moving.
Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I’m driven to create art that vividly addresses individual psychological destruction while simultaneously nurturing the dynamic aspects of the human experience. I pull a lot of inspiration from Indo-European spiritual practices, the dual nature of alchemy, and archetypal psychology. I continuously reference these things in my art to guide me toward ideas that are couched in the current direction of our world. I find that linking theories compliments both the process and concept in my art, and that allows me to further explore pervasive and unperceived patterns that govern our lives. Being a multidisciplinary artist lets me study and explore these ideas deeper through combining elements of sculpture, installation, audiovisual art, and sound. I’m mostly known for my sculptural work and recently published an art and psychology ‘zine that stemmed from my exhibition, “This World is Strange, and I Blame It on You.” It was a collection of my art based on Carl Jung’s 12 primary archetypes, and focuses on historically contrasting theories of mental health, wellness, and philosophy. By cross-referencing analytical psychology, art, & the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health (DSM), I can offer insight into established psychological theories to explore and understand the depths of an individual’s psyche and the perceptions of the world that collectively surrounds us.
I’m usually working in at least 3 different art mediums at any given time. It’s a bit chaotic, but it works for me. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with wearable, kinetic sound art and learning new ways to blend sculpture and fiber techniques. Regardless of whatever style of art I’m focusing on, I aim to enhance individuals’ perception of the entirety of their surroundings, attend more carefully to what’s taking place, and appreciate our roles in this grand experience of life.
Have you learned any interesting or important lessons due to the Covid-19 Crisis?
The pandemic was a massive global crisis that nobody had experienced and couldn’t prepare for. It was overwhelming. When problems seem that immense, I think taking stock in a few simple things is ideal.
*Establish a support system
*Sublimate the pain
*Cut yourself some slack
- Website: www.KatNechlebova.com
- Instagram: kat.dison.nechlebova