Enriching the Arts

Featured Artist for July 15: Katie Ohe, MFA, RCA, ASA


Katie Ohe, Monsoon


Katie Ohe has a long history as a Calgary based Artist and Art Educator. She attended the Alberta College of Art (then P.I.T.A.), followed by one year at the Montreal Museum, with Dr. Lismer. In the 60s , she took a three year, post-graduate sculpture study at Sculpture Centre, N.Y.C. A Canada Council Grant provided one year of studio sculpture practice in London U.K. In the 70’s she had a foundry studio, in Verona Italy, for 8 summers (this opportunity was encouraged by Sculpture Centre, N.Y.C.). Ohe taught sculpture and ceramics for 8 years for the Calgary Allied Art Centre until its closure in 1968. (Taking occasional time off for further study) She teaches sculpture at the Alberta College of Art and Design 1970 to 2016.

Ohe’s sculpture has been exhibited nationally and internationally as well as many commissioned public sculptures in Calgary. Ohe’s work is represented in collections including the Canada Council Art Bank, The Alberta Foundation for the Arts, the Shell Collection, University of Alberta, Federal Gov’t, Geological Building, ACAD, and the Glenbow Museum. Ohe has received a number of awards for her Art and teaching contributions; , the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada in 1983,  the ACAD Alumni Award of Excellence in 1991 and in 2001 was the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Calgary. Katie is an elected member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, A.S.A. and KOAC.

Driven by the desire to be able to express thoughts and emotions through her work, here a few of her words – “My main focus, has been to explore and develop kinetic/ participation/and installation sculpture, My sculptures are idea driven, Ideas come from everyday experience. Sculptures “Monsoon”, “Weeping Bees”, and “Typhoon” express my interest in how the eye perceives form and space in motion. Resting on the floor, each form and rotary system is unique. When the objects are in rotary motion, optically, each display a unique movement and spacial relationship that the mind and eye cannot immediately comprehend logically. The objects’ surfaces are smooth and tactile, inviting intuitive touch to set the sculptures in motion. Color is integral to the essence of the idea.

The scale of each element of the sculptures is considered personable, friendly and approachable, provoking participation, a sense of play and communion.
I work with many media, however my preferred material is steel (welded). I can purchase the material, as a preformed sheet, rod, pipe, dome, etc. I can change and evolve the forms of the sculpture as it develops. I like the cool color of steel. The hardness of the material is important for the precision, and durability of the systems that allow the sculptures freedom of movement through touch.”

Q&A with the ASA


Katie Ohe, Venetian Puddle

ASA: Could you tell us about your influences?

Katie: Marion Nicoll had a profound influence on my artistic life—She shared with her students, the passion, values, and empathy that would sustain our artistic life. Both Marion and Luke Lindoe, through four years of intense study, and studio practice, instilled in the student a strong work ethic, and fostered the idea, “ you have to earn your gift.”

Marion continued to encourage and give her support, in my request to study for a year with Dr. Arther Lismer, at the Montreal Museum, following, to teach Child and Adult Art for the Calgary Allied Art Centre. Again, she supported my three year “post grad” sculpture study at Sculpture Centre N.Y.C. In Montreal, under Dr. Lismers supervision, I would, as a student, participate in conducting regular, diversified, child art classes. The art results would under-go weekly studies and analysis. During my free time, I would practice sculpture. My passion, and artistic involvement earned on-going support from Dr. Lismer. I returned to Calgary to teach Child and Adult Art classes for the Calgary Allied Art Centre. Archie Key, Director and Founder, fullfilled another influential role, to trust and encourage me in my teaching capacity. The Art Centre provided studio space for my sculpture practice. Archie Key opened the doorway for three years of ‘post grad” studies, at Sculpture Centre , N.Y.C.
Dorothy Denslow, Director of Sculpture Centre, gave me privileged studio time (free tuition) six days of the week. She provided me with every learning opportunity she could devise which included exhibition, meeting of celebrated artists etc. The three year period spent studying sculpture at the Centre in New York, was a highly prolific and inspiring time for me.

The Assistant Director of Sculpture Centre, Sahl Swarz (later became Dean of Sculpture, Columbia, University), encouraged, invited and assisted my eight summer periods spent working and, having a sculpture studio in a foundry, Verona Italy. I have taught Sculpture ( half time) for the Alberta College of Art and Design, since 1970. This privilege allowed me to continue a strong sculpture studio practice. A.C.A.D. provides connections, creative stimulis, and support. Students keep one current, and thinking. Throughout my formative years, I’ve had on-going support and friendship from the best artists, founders, and directors. To this day, I give thanks to their enduring influence, and belief in my life as an artist.

ASA: Which body of your work would you consider most successful to date?

Katie: I consider the early seventy’s through to the 80’s a very involved and creative period of time. I built a series of sculptures, based on the oval, and arch (about 7’ tall) The sculptures comprised of two unique vertical columns, the columns, top and bottom connected with an arch. The columns rotate, altering the visual perception of the space between the columns (welded steel, chromed, rotary systems for moving parts) 1973 “Oval” Collection, Alberta Art Foundation. 1975, “Zipper”. Collection, University of Calgary. “Zipper #2” Collection, Oxford Development, Edmonton. 1980 “Montova Arch”, personal Collection.


Katie Ohe, Zipper

ASA and TREX Address

Crossroads Art Centre
#302 - 1235 26th Avenue SE
Calgary, AB T2G 1R7
ASA Phone: (403) 265-0012
TREX Phone: (403) 262-4669

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