Photo by Megan Leigh Barnard

Timely Statement

“I have a collection of old cuckoos in my studio. Half of them work and none of them keep the correct time, but I just like to look at them and pretend I live there sometimes.”

It’s hard not to think there’s something a little mystic about Katharine Marie.

A ubiquitous mixed media artist for years in Columbus, she’s recently drawn acclaim for her unique stream-of-consciousness tattoos. Simply put: at any hour of the day that inspiration may strike, Marie transposes her thoughts a into series of intricate patterns, symbols, and sometimes plants and animals, which results in flocks of Columbus patrons getting to walk around—permanently—wearing a one-of-a-kind Katharine Marie.

So, it’s hard to be surprised when you learn that her latest project—a new installation in the novel Holmes County Open Air Art Museum, located at The Inn at Honey Run—was something she mentally manifested.

“I had been saying for the past few years, ‘I’m going to build a big cuckoo clock in the woods and live in Berlin!’ Straight from my lips to Gods ears—it happened.” Okay, so it ended up being Millersburg—which is still the next nearest town is Berlin, Ohio. Spooky, huh?

“My original wish meant a cuckoo clock I could actually live in, and in Berlin, Germany, but I guess the lesson here is that if you’re going to try to manifest anything—be specific.

What seems like a cosmic coincidence in many ways was right on time for the artist, whose long-time obsession with cuckoo clocks can be traced back long before her 2012 “AM” series. Now, in the four years since, she’s undergone massive life changes, and has strayed into the wild world of nature—so far from her comfort zone in just about every way imaginable. “I have changed so much: intellectually, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally since then,” she said. “So I believe it was made manifest to complete one huge chapter of my life that, symbolically, applies to everyone reaching for prosperity beyond personal transformation. That’s exactly why this is a public installation where people can walk through as the “timepiece.”

Marie, who is now the second Columbus artist to become part of the open-air experience (Walter Hermann being the first) also found a dual meaning in executing a giant totem of German craftsmanship—a tribute to her heritage—all to be installed in the heart of Amish Country.

In fact, the term “craft” borders on inadequate for a project of this scale. A lot of old school blood and sweat goes into work of this kind, filled with technical challenges and “riddles,” as Marie puts it. Challenging, to say the least.

“I love the idea that those who walk the trail will finish by walking through my installation; they reinforce this piece energetically. It needs them, and they are accomplishing something by completing that walk.  It’s the essence of completion, and a symbol of prosperity that comes from that accomplishment.”

“I’ve gotten poison ivy with every session, mosquitoes have feasted on my blood. I’m working with very many different types [of wood] … there’s been a lot of math with this piece, too. Otherwise I have to say that standing on the top rungs of a folded ladder that’s situated on extremely loose and uneven ground where only three feet are touching while using a brad nailer above my own head to shoot brads onto the 14-foot-rooftop that I cannot get high enough to see from above, certainly qualifies as challenging—especially because I’m out there alone doing all that.”

Marie, as it turns out, has welcomed the solitude, calling the six months she’s worked on the project as “nature therapy.”

“I’ve learned to enjoy the drive, listen to and draw inspiration only from the wild and not personal life dramas because life itself is much, much bigger than those.  I’m surprised by the installation’s new creature inhabitants and that they’ve been quick to embrace it.” Marie’s creation is as non-invasive as possible to its surroundings, galvanized between two trees in a way that she says is surprisingly permanent.

“I wanted to create a piece that although it may not look like it, will last. It’s very strong,” she said. “I love the idea that those who walk the trail will finish by walking through my installation; they reinforce this piece energetically. It needs them, and they are accomplishing something by completing that walk. It’s the essence of completion, and a symbol of prosperity that comes from that accomplishment.”

Permanence and time, near-constant traits of Marie’s work, along with a call to nature, have become one of the more fulfilling projects of her career. “This piece will never be limited to a wall in someone’s home or on a gallery wall in the city,” she said.  “It’s become a gig I want to last forever.”

Being Time, the “PM Cuckoo,” will be unveiled October 6. For more, visit innathoneyrun.com/open-air-art-museum.

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Travis Hoewischer

I've been working in journalism in central Ohio for more than a decade, and have been lucky enough to be a part of (614) Magazine since the very first issue. Proud to live in a city that still cares – and still reads.

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