By Aila Boyd
Editor’s note: This article is the sixth in a series of articles that will feature all 14 artists that will be participating in the 2019 Open Studios-Botetourt tour on October 26 and 27. Each week leading up to the two-day event, The Herald will feature one artist – highlighting their passion for their chosen artform.
Through numerous moves, professions, and life roles, art has always been a constant in the life of Dreama Kattenbraker. Shy as a young girl, she said that art was her best friend. “There was always art. It never changed,” she said.
When she first started out, Kattenbraker primarily drew with pencils and crayons. Her art has since evolved to include complex abstract paintings and clay figures. “It’s nice to have the two because when I hit a rough spot with one, I just go to the other medium,” she explained.
She attributes a teacher she had during her senior year of high school as furthering her progress as an artist. “He was a lot of fun, but really honest,” she said. “He encouraged me to focus on interesting subject matter.”
Shortly thereafter, Kattenbraker decided that she wanted to become an art teacher. She studied art education at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, but decided to put her education on hold, even though she only had a few classes left before being able to graduate, in order to get married and move to California.
After several moves and two kids, she decided to return to school in her 30s. Instead of completing her degree in art education, she decided to take a different route by studying anthropology. “I asked myself what I really liked reading and thinking about. I decided that I wanted to look at craft and culture from around the world,” she said.
Later on, she started taking art classes at a community college outside of Chicago, Ill., where she was living at the time. “I had been painting all along, but I started learning more about clay,” she said.
She was eventually asked to assume the course load of one of her teachers at a local recreation department. At the time she was working for an accountant, so the decision to teach the thing that she’s truly passionate about came as a no-brainer. “I had every age. The children were wonderful because they break the rules. I probably learned more from them than they did from me,” she said. She taught art classes, including clay building, painting, and mixed media, for 14 years, before moving to Fincastle.
Kattenbraker’s parents were Botetourt natives, but moved around a lot throughout her childhood due to her father’s time in the service. Following in her parent’s itinerate footsteps, Kattenbraker and her husband lived in many different places before doing as her parents did by retiring to Fincastle. She and her husband have called Fincastle home for a record 16 years.
“Being here is just magical— all of the old buildings and mountains,” she said of Fincastle.
Drawing on her anthropological background, Kattenbraker is inspired by mythology and the stories of different cultures.
“My work is not realistic. I like figures— humans and animals. I enjoy humans and animals switched up even better. I love color,” she said.
On average, she spends 40 hours at work in her home studio per week.
She’s currently spending quite a bit of her time preparing for Open Studios-Botetourt, which she has participated in since it first started. “The Open Studios artists are a huge inspiration for me,” she said.
For more information about Open Studios-Botetourt, visit: https://openstudiosbotetourt.com/