SAI: There’s an interesting story behind the pseudonym Pterodactyl. Can you explain?
Kim Pterodactyl: An ex-boyfriend and I thought of it as a memorable surname for the art installations we were creating in Baton Rouge and New Orleans. We were drawn to the combination “PT” in the spelling.
SAI: Can you tell us a bit about your artistic process?
Pterodactyl: I’m drawn to absurdities in American culture usually found in our media/advertising. I find a lot of advertising to be useless, pervasive, manipulative, shameless, sensational, offensive and exploitative. This drives me to respond creatively and not in an antagonistic way. I approach visual communication the same way I approach verbal communication, very cautiously, deliberate with an underlying cynicism and humor. My approach seems antithetical to advertising techniques now that I’m thinking about it.
SAI: From what I’ve seen, your biggest series right now focus on Winners, Losers, and Televangelists. What inspired you to begin these series?
Pterodactyl: I was driving a taxi in New Orleans and therefore following local crime reports. I started to notice trends in mug shot facial expressions and the nature of the crime. I wanted to explore the range of authenticity of emotion captured in existing publicly available photographs. Beauty queens and televangelists exhibit a well-trained emotional output and mugshots are typically the opposite. I was experimenting with embroidery because it’s a manageable process in the cabstands and I discovered it was a great medium for decoding emotion. I like contemplating the sequences of emotional responses and their social acceptance.
SAI: Your Winners series focuses on the moment when a Miss America contestant is crowned. What draws you to that specific moment in time?
Pterodactyl: I wanted to isolate the apex of emotion.
SAI: In contrast, Losers is a series of mugshots. What draws you to those?
Pterodactyl: The mugshots expose a raw vulnerability post-arrest and pre-caging. It’s like an ambiguous emotional public record or underlying narrative. It’s this unintentional byproduct of mandated routine government procedure I want to communicate through the tedious repetitive action of embroidery. Unemotional and methodical action on a small scale is my reverent approach to de-contextualize and preserve a moment.
SAI: What’s next for you?
Pterodactyl: I have a lot of ideas for creative projects but also want to find a job in the design field.
Kim Pterodactyl recently received her MA in Fibers from SCAD. Click here to see more of her artwork.