Katelyn Kopenhaver is a photographer and multimedia artist originally from Doylestown, Pennsylvania and currently works and resides in New York City. Her works have been exhibited and published frequently in New York, Los Angeles and London. Formally trained in photography from the age of fifteen, Kopenhaver has expanded her artistic practice into video, performance, and installation. Kopenhaver is preoccupied with societal oversight, those crucial moments that are seen but forgotten, the glimpse of an act between two people that alarms us, an instant where we ask ourselves “should I intervene?”
"...I am meant to disturb people in the most charming of ways. Expose monsters, truths and spread inspiration."
You in a word -
On you –
I was born in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. I grew mucking stalls, scrubbing buckets and riding horses - total barn rat, I loved it. I moved to New York in 2013, and currently live and reside in Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan.
Young Katelyn: I grew up a very passionate and an experienced equestrian. Everything I learned about persistence, risk, confidence and work ethic came from horses. I owe my life to them. I had a nasty pony growing up named Missy, and sometimes during competitions, Missy decided she didn’t want to go over a jump. If your horse refuses a jump three times in a horse show, the announcer says “Thank You,” and kindly asks you to leave the ring. Let's just say all those thank you’s made me that much more determined to work twenty times harder.
Early Adult Katelyn: Before I moved to New York, I was studying fine art at a community college in Pennsylvania. I overheard a conversation that I was half in half out of. A professor was telling a story to this student about another student he had who moved to New York. He said, “You HAVE to change, you have to speak up and talk to people. Imagine how you see yourself, start to act like it, and it will happen.” These words always stayed with me, especially because I was trying to get to New York, and she [New York] seemed like this very distant fantasy that I finally made possible.
Adult Katelyn: When I was at SVA attending, I had a professor say to us, “Stop telling me how hard it is and just fucking do it.” All the time do I hear how hard freelancing is, photography, art, “making it.” Staying in the game, that's the hardest part, but it's possible..I’ve gotten this far! When I get down, I just remember that moment in class and its power pushes me through.
On purpose and motivation –
I am meant to disturb people in the most charming of ways. Expose monsters, truths and spread inspiration. Make people contemplate and think, pull them from their day to day.
" ...getting myself to New York. It was far from easy and the money wasn't there. To attend the School of Visual Arts was my personal mission, and when I set my sights, I never stop."
On a moment of transformation –
I have had a handful of transformative moments. The one that comes to mind first, is getting myself to New York. It was far from easy and the money wasn't there. To attend the School of Visual Arts was my personal mission, and when I set my sights, I never stop. Regardless of the price tag to attend this institution, I knew there had to be ways around it. I found the names and corresponding emails of admissions, photography department, and financial aid individuals. I began emailing, sending in updated work, asking for scholarship money, explaining my situation. I went to two accepted students days at SVA, since I was forced to defer my acceptance the first time. At the second one, I finally got face to face contact with the people I have been emailing for months allowing me to speak and solidify my seriousness on attending. Upon heading back to Pennsylvania, my community college had a special scholarship set aside for one student to attend SVA, and I received that. In addition I got all the necessary funding from SVA to attend. I continued to work and obtain funding after the first year, however, because my funding was only for year one, so I continued hassling with my dads voice “The squeaky wheel gets the grease” in the background. In addition, I learned ALOT about the business behind education, an invaluable lesson. I got by with additional scholarship and grant money from photo competitions throughout my years there as well as seasonally uncomfortable meetings with the chair. I was always bartending part-time to fill in the gaps and I still have some debt to pay, but don't we all?
On the next 12 months –
So much can happen in a year. I am excited to continue pushing my work and building my career. “We will see where the wind blows me,” is my mindset. I found myself writing a play, filming a music video; doing things I had no idea I would find myself doing. I am open to exploration and to continue on this mysterious path. I have no plan b, it's not like I’ll wake up decide to become a dentist one day. (Man, I wish) This is what I want, even though its painful at times, I will continue being persistent and creating art, so much so until I have no more to give.
On love -
Listening, empathy, presence, and giving genuine time and energy.
On what makes you laugh -
Pushing people's buttons, not in a malicious way, I’m just an innocent fire starter! Watching horses be silly. Making random children on the subway giggle at my goofy faces.
On ARTICLE22 -
A22 represents a cycle of life in a way. Death and rebirth - its a healthy take on something that was so horrendous and to process it in a way that is productive and spreading positive energy.
My favorite bangle is "Love is the Bomb" and my favorite it the Lariat Choker.