Kate Just is an American-born Australian visual artist. Since 2002, Just has created an expansive body of visual art work in a diversity of media including knitting, resin, clay, collage and photo-media. Central to her practice is the exploration of feminist representations of the body. Just's use of knitting across many works casts craft as a highly engaging sculptural medium, a poetic or political tool. Just has also produced a number of socially engaged projects and public works about urban community, female representation and violence against women.
Although I have worked across a wide range of mediums including textiles, ceramics, collage and photo media, knitting has been my primary medium for fifteen years. In 2000 after a tragic family loss, my mother sat beside me and taught me to knit. In that moment, I understood knitting to be a powerful personal, political, poetic and narrative tool.
My knitted art works have always been autobiographical. Early sculptures included a knitted effigy of my father as a policeman, a 'family' tree, and a giant boundary hedge that spells LOVE. Through these time intensive works which took up to a year to create, I explored my childhood experiences and memories of gender and family.
In later elaborate knitted sculptures, I became more focussed on crafting feminist representations of the body. I reinterpreted diverse mythical and historical representations of women to reflect my own experiences of grief, sexual awakening, and my desire to be a mother. I then spent many years on a series of knitted skins and armors that explore the evocative and connective character of skin and its relevance to expressions of female embodiment and subjectivity. Since 2011, I have also undertaken a series of socially engaged projects. For my KNIT HOPE, KNIT SAFE and FURIES works, I worked with diverse groups of women in the community to create knitted banners and photographic images that challenge the ongoing issue of violence against women.
My most recent work, The Feminist Fan series, is my first foray into complex knitted pictorial replicas of famous feminist artists and artworks from around the globe. The series began with a reverence for the ways women activist groups such as Pussy Riot and Femen were taking over public or institutional spaces and challenging patriarchal structures. Over time, it extended naturally back to early feminist performance works in which the body, textiles and forms of adornment were used to challenge stereotypes of gender, sexuality and experience.
Like all my other works, the Feminist Fan series is autobiographical. Although this body of work acknowledges the global influence of feminist art, it is also a genealogy of my influences. It is a family tree that maps my intimate alliances and crafts a series of visible connections between artists and across time and cultures.
Kate Just was born in Connecticut, USA in 1974, and migrated to Melbourne, Australia in 1996. Just holds a Doctor of Philosophy (Sculpture) from Monash University, a Master of Arts from RMIT and a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Painting) from the Victorian College of the Arts where she has been a Lecturer in Art since 2005. Just has exhibited in over a hundred solo and group exhibitions across Australia including at Daine Singer, Craft Victoria, Gertrude Contemporary, West Space, Conical, Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne Art Fair, Silvershot, Contemporary Art Space of Tasmania, Chalk Horse Gallery, Nellie Castan Gallery, First Draft, MOP, Perth Institute of Contemporary Art, and Canberra Contemporary Art Space. Internationally, Just has exhibited her work at A.I.R. Gallery and AC Institute in New York, Titanik Galleria in Finland, Nanjing University in China, Auckland Art Fair, The Factory at Kunsthalle Krems, Austria, Youkobo Art Space in Tokyo, Japan, Hive Gallery in Los Angeles and Sanskriti Art Gallery in New Delhi. In 2017, Just's works will be exhibited at the Rijswijk Museum in the Netherlands and the newly built ICA in Richmond, Virginia.
Just has been the recipient of numerous grants and prizes. She has been awarded funding for new work by the City of Melbourne, Arts Victoria and the Australia Council for the Arts. For her studio led PhD project, Just was the 2014 recipient of the Mollie Holman Doctoral Medal. Just was the winner of the 2007 Siemens Travel Award, the 2012 British Council Realise Your Dream Award, the 2013 Rupert Bunny Visual Arts Fellowship and the 2015 Wangaratta Contemporary Textile Award. She has undertaken local residencies at Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces, Lake Macquarie Gallery, Heide Museum of Modern Art and the Australian Tapestry Workshop and held international residencies at Krems (AIR), the Australia Council Studio Barcelona, Youkobo Art Space in Tokyo, and an Asialink residency at Sanskriti Kendra in New Delhi. Just's work is held in private and public collections including The National Gallery of Australia, Artbank, Ergas Collection, City of Port Phillip, Ararat Regional Art Gallery and Proclaim Management Collection.