From Ivan Jurakic's Essay on Kathryn Dain's exhibit Additions, 2005: Speaking to Dain, the idea of balance comes up again and again. Her work, whether painted, sewn or assembled, strives to capture and sustain a balance between randomness (chaos) and structure (order); between one colour and another, between one form and another, between the handmade and intuitive nature of the work and her methodical use of grids. As an artist, Dain strives to achieve a conceptual, psychological, even spiritual equilibrium.
For example, Flow is an assemblage made up of 4000 collected buttons that have each been hand-sewn onto a very long and narrow strip of canvas. This single piece illustrates the delicate balancing act required of Dain’s daily handiwork, her obsessive need to collect and to order, her intuitive approach to the selection of materials, and her affinity for fibre-based artwork. The piece also subtly addresses the artist’s expected role as a woman.
Dain’s artwork smartly reconciles her first degree in Home Economics, where she learned to sew, with her early training as a painter, allowing her skills and interests to develop into a conceptual practice overtime. Although the artist has a long association with fibre as a medium, wrapped cloth and paper being foremost in her inventory, her recent work opens itself up to colour and materials in a new way, without sacrificing the qualities inherent to her work. Her best work borders on an obsessive compulsive disorder that has been refined into a daily ritual one might call an act of creative accretion. On the surface, there is punch-clock aspect to the repetitive labour involved, but her process is never detached. Like her predecessors, Dain maintains a formal allegiance to Minimalism but her work is never cold, nor sterile, it remains warm and handmade.