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Art Makes Columbus: Katherine Matthews Brings Literary Arts into The Spotlight

Walker Evans Walker Evans Art Makes Columbus: Katherine Matthews Brings Literary Arts into The Spotlight
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columbus-makes-artArt Makes Columbus. Columbus Makes Art. The Greater Columbus Arts Council (GCAC) is launching a new five-year marketing campaign to highlight the innovation and connectedness in the local arts community. The new program will highlight both individual artists and organizations from a wide variety of visual and performing arts mediums, with a goal of increasing awareness and boosting arts patronage all across Columbus.

This week, Columbus Underground is presenting a series of interviews with local creatives to find out what being an artist means to them, what they face as challenges, and what their hopes for the future are.

Katherine Matthews says that she knew she wanted to become a writer all the way back in second grade. While not everyone would consider that choice as a viable career path in Columbus, Matthews says that she’s not only been able to achieve that goal, she’s been able to thrive.

“People are often fascinated by the idea of being a full time writer, but not everyone realizes that you don’t just write, you do many things,” explains Matthews. “I’ve had a variety of writing and editing jobs, I wrote over 150 articles for Columbus Monthly, edited several books, starting a publishing firm with a few friends, and I’ve done a lot of teaching through The Thurber House.”

Matthews obtained her undergraduate English degree from the University of Virginia and her Masters in English from The Ohio State University. She says that a degree in English is “a degree in how to communicate” which she considers invaluable. What has kept her here in Columbus is the invaluable community support that she’s discovered along the way.

“I‘ve had the ability to flourish in terms of professional work, as well as finding a community of other writers to work with,” says Matthews. “When you’re in front of the computer 95% of the time, you need that community so you have support out there. That’s been huge for me — to be able to find talented, thoughtful, wonderful people here.”

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While her experiences in Columbus have been positive, being a writer doesn’t come without its challenges.

“The challenge we see at The Thurber House is that people lead very busy lives, so getting their attention and getting them to set aside time to experience the arts can be difficult,” explains Matthews. “Once they do experience it, they’re hooked. Making that step forward and trying something new or something different can be a difficult decision, especially for the younger demographics.”

Similarly, Matthews says that ongoing changes in technology has played a strong role in the writing industry. It’s a source of new entertainment options streaming across every platform and device, and allows writers and authors to work more efficiently and engage audiences more directly.

“When working on our Flip the Page teen literary journal this year, we basically did everything electronically — from contacting teachers to accepting submissions to looking over the submissions to printing the book itself — it’s all electronic,” she says. “So in some ways its amazing, but it can also be tough to get through all the noise. Sometimes it seems like the internet is shouting at you. Making that initial contact is tough, but once you’ve done that, it’s an amazing resource.” 

Connecting with audiences is something that Matthews expects the new Art Makes Columbus / Columbus Makes Art campaign will assist with.

“When people think of the arts, they don’t always think of the literary arts right away,” she says. “I love that the GCAC campaign is creating these little jewel-like segments to talk about different types of artists. The arts is a big concept, so its much easier to get into it through these individual stories.”

Individual stories from aspiring young writers will be on display this weekend as the official release of the Flip the Page teen literary journal will get an official release at the Columbus Arts Festival today (you can also purchase online via Amazon). The creative and collaborative efforts that connect teen writers to the large Arts Fest audience is something that Matthews says in invaluable about this community.

“The great thing about Columbus is that there’s not any sort of established set of rules that you have to follow,” she says. “The possibilities feel endless because there’s nothing in place telling you that you can’t do something. And the people are pretty hip here… they don’t have preconceptions on what the arts should be.”

For more of Katherine’s story, CLICK HERE to visit www.columbusmakesart.com.

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