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Katie Henderson

Posted on Sep 3 2012

When did you start drawing? What came first - your love of sketching or your interest in fashion?
Around 2006. Katie saw the movie "The Devil Wears Prada." In fact, as we were going through these questions, she got the movie and insisted that I watch it with her.
After watching this movie, she really seemed to have an interest in fashion and fashion design. All she talked about was going to New York City. She wanted to design her own clothing and walk the runway. I shared this story with a friend and she said, "Let's make it happen." Her sorority was doing a professional Fashion Show with models from Chicago. Katie designed an outfit. We searched for fabric and she assisted in sewing it. She walked the Runway with pride.. I cried with joy when the audience gave her a standing ovation. Katie's "Passion for Fashion" introduced her to her love of drawing.
What is it about fashion that you find most inspiring as an artist?
Clothes and movement of clothing. Models pose. Katie's artwork is known for the unique poses she draws her ladies. The accessories of her ladies have movement. She has a drawing we call "The Necklace." The Necklace appears to be floating in the air. "Blanche" is wearing a red scarf which appears to be caught by the wind--flowing in the air as her lady walks swiftly. A number of her ladies dresses appear to be in layers. Several artist and fans have compared her to Picasso. She breaks her drawings up in to small pieces resulting in a layering of her ladies clothing. She spends hours drawing her ladies doing one small section at a time.
Apart from fashion, where do you draw your inspiration from?
Under the direction of Lynne Barletta, Director of the Visionary School of Arts in Stuart, FL, Katie has begun experimenting in other sources. She drew an angel for her grandmother to watch over her. She did a mermaid in watercolor and recently, experimented with pastels drawing a butterfly. She also drew a vase. Prior to going to the Visionary School if you asked her to draw something besides her fashion ladies she would say “That’s not my thing.” Ms. Lynne inspires Katie to attempt other subjects.

Who is your favorite artist?
Picasso. she wants to try and draw one of his ladies. She likes the colors used in his work and his ladies.
And your favorite fashion designers?
I love color and classical styles... We attended Couture Fashion Week in New York City in 2010. She has used the program from this week's shows as her inspiration for her "Charmed Ones" collection.
Katie names her artwork after her favorite movie and TV series characters.

Do you think that having Down syndrome has enriched your outlook in a certain way?
It is said by other artists and admirers of Katie's work, that her work demonstrates the innocence of a child. She doesn't complicate it with over thinking and trying to make it perfect. It comes naturally and from her heart. Lynne Barletta states, "Katie does naturally what many artist study a lifetime to do."
When you ask Katie what do you do? She states, “I’m an artist.” She doesn't preface it with her disability (having Down syndrome). To her –she's just and artist who loves fashion and happens to have Down syndrome. She expresses her love for fashion through her art.

We all need reassurance when showing your work - where do you find it?
From her family. Katie loves her family especially her brothers. She beams with pride when her brother who lives here in Florida comes to her shows. She takes him around the room and introduces him to everyone. She tells everyone she meets about her big brother, Jimmy who lives in Texas with his two children, Morgan and Gavin. She speaks of his wife, Jessica, as her sister.

How do you imagine the people who choose to acquire your artworks?
Katie has sold a number of originals all for over $1,000. Her recent sale was "Sisters" which sold for $1,200. The buyer recently lost her brother and has been sadden by his death. She told us that when she looks at Katie's artwork ..."it makes her smile." It is Katie's desire for people to admire her art and enjoy the whimsical ladies bringing a smile to their faces. It appears she has done this for at least this one person.

When sketching, do you have an ideal viewer in mind?
Yes. Katie’s primary source for her drawings is paper doll books and pictures of models from fashion magazines. The drawings inspire her to create her own fashion designs. She changes the poses, re-designs the clothing, and creates women of diversity. An interesting aspect of Katie’s art is that she doesn’t discriminate when it comes to color. While her source documents may be mostly white, she creates women of color (red, white, yellow, black --- she has even created women with orange and green skin tones). Her sources (the paperdoll books) don't have faces. She creates the faces on her own from something from within her. Each face is different and is created through her own visions.

 Do you pick your daily outfits according to the mood you are in, or do you always try to look your best,
no matter what?

Katie enjoys dressing to be comfortable. However, on special occasions she loves to dress up and accessorize.
After watching “The Devil Wears Prada” tonight she’s ready to go shopping


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