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Boise Artist Kate Masterson Teases Social Justice Themes in Upcoming James Castle House Exhibition


Kate Masterson has one of the best visual art resumes in Boise, and currently, she teaches art at Bishop Kelly High School. But for the last week, she has lived in the James Castle House as a short-term artist-in-residence.

"Exploring this project at the James Castle House has provided a magnifying glass to the life and work of Castle himself, and the environment he witnessed," Masterson wrote in an email ahead of her Saturday, Dec. 1, exhibition at JCH, which will run from 1-3 p.m.

Masterson wrote that she has six new paintings in progress, with a total of eight she hopes to have completed by the end of her stay on Monday, Dec. 3. She will also show two framed graphite drawings, and two landscape paintings. In Castle's work, she saw a reflection of a bygone era of Boise history—one end of a tug-of-war between the past and present of the City of Trees.

- "See This Man" by Kate Masterson -  - KATE MASTERSON
  • Kate Masterson
  • "See This Man" by Kate Masterson
She said there are ideological implications to that tug-of-war, and she has looked into how the time in which Castle was artistically active has been idealized, and how that plays into contemporary conversations about economics, race and class.

"I'm curious how fundamentalism, nationalism and conservatism [are] subtly perpetuated through innocuous family histories and explicitly reinforced through nostalgic exaltation. Do the stories we tell ourselves seduce complacency or challenge us to become more engaged citizens promoting social justice?" she wrote.

Masterson will be the last short-term artist-in-residence at JCH until the late summer of 2019: In January, Brooklyn, New York-based artist Rachel Rickert will move in, followed by Florida-based Cindy Steiler—both of whom will be long-term artists-in-residence.