Cohort 52 is a platform for emerging voices from the Applied Art & Design program at Sierra College in Northern California. Cohort 52 is facilitated by Assistant Professor Vincent Pacheco.


Katherine Porter

“I am grateful to have an outlet in life that is as powerful as art to process times of hardship.




Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? 

My full name is Katherine but people I work with call me Kate. I am a return student to Sierra as I had previously worked in the mortgage industry as an underwriter for years prior. I decided to leave my career in pursuit of finding something that incorporated my passion for art and design. I hope to take my education further and incorporate what I learn into the design field. In my personal time I enjoy the outdoors which includes hiking, camping, swimming and immersing myself in other cultures. I also enjoy spending time with my friends and family.


How much experience do you have with collage?

Minimal; I had only worked with collages when I was much younger. I am an older student and most of my experience is based in the “myspace era” by creating collage backgrounds for my social media page.


Collage artists tend to be picky when it comes to their source material. Can you talk about your approach for selecting your images and/or publications?

I sourced my materials all second hand as being eco conscious is important to me. The books and magazines I pulled images from were those that I could relate to on a personal level. Some are simply images pulled from nature catalogs while others are history books and magazines.


Were there any large themes you intended to explore or unpack before you began with this series of work? Did you stay on theme, or did things change as you began physically cutting and pasting images?

The primary theme I thought about was based on the concept of awareness of my own privilege. I am learning more from my peers and through my own reading on the subject how the impact of colonization has lasting effects on oppressed groups. As the rise of social media is shedding light to a broader audience I feel it is imperative to become educated on this subject in a realistic and compassionate manner.


How did your background and life experiences inform your collages?

My childhood was incredibly sheltered from understanding the plights of others. As I grew into my own and experienced more of the world I felt an injustice and a sense of grief learning more about history. I feel that by starting to rectify these injustices we as man-kind are able to take the first step to bring people together.


What was your environment and set-up like when making the work? Did you listen to music? Did you work in isolation, or were you surrounded by distraction? Do you think this influenced the work you made?

When I work I like to have background noise. This can be music, tv, even having family around talking or playing with our dog.  I work better in what my family calls “chaos” and what I call my “creative space”. I am certain this has a positive impact on my work as without noises my mind tends to wander from the creative task at hand.


Scissors or X-Acto?

X-Acto always.


Was there anything unexpected that emerged while creating your work? Any new epiphanies?

No, my collages were created with thought and intent. I think that if another person viewed the work and designs they may have their own interpretations but that is the beauty of art.


Looking at your work again, has your understanding of your collages changed over time? Has any hidden meaning emerged?

I definitely have gained a new appreciation for the medium but did not find any new meanings.


Many artists are using the pandemic as a moment to pause and reflect. Do you think Covid-19 informed your work in any way? 

Covid greatly impacted my work. I started school again during this time and reignited my love for creating. I also feel that it is often true that “beauty comes from pain”. These past few years have been the most challenging and at times painful I have experienced and my work done during that time shows. I am grateful to have an outlet in life that is as powerful as art to process times of hardship.