my name is: Kate Berlant
i make: People laugh.
what inspires me about the getty: I’ve always tried to burst through any and all moments by making some grotesque face or gesture. I remember coming to the Getty to see the James Ensor exhibition, and I was so drawn to his works. I felt so connected to all of those grotesque faces, so funny, and yet unbearable to look at in certain ways.
I find “the grotesque” to be interesting, as I can’t really separate it from being a woman, wanting to be pretty, and using a hideous face to disrupt that feeling. I remember being maybe fifteen and I would do these faces, and my mom was like, “Is that voluntary?” She was worried that it was an involuntary tick. And I was like, no. I’m deliberately trying to interrupt how you consume me. It is a way to desexualize oneself in our culture.
to me, inspiration is: I’ve been thinking about the Chuck Close quote “Inspiration is for amateurs.” I like this quote a lot in relation to stand-up comedy in particular. I’m inspired by the idea of committing to performance—repetition inevitably breeds difference, and so doing stand-up constantly you are destined to see yourself change, hopefully for the better. Repeating the action even when it feels painful is liberating.
If you’ve ever driven down Hollywood Boulevard, you’ve probably passed right by Graham Chaffee’s tattoo shop. Graham designs his own tattoos, paints, and draws comics. He also finds inspiration in all kinds of art. We met Graham on Instagram when he shared his beautiful sketches of an 18th-century sculpture with us.
When Graham visits museums, he makes an emotional connection to artists who lived centuries ago. “When you can see the artist’s hand in the work, you make a visceral connection to what you’re doing,” he says. “it makes the art less remote, more touchable.” One of his favorites is a painted wood statue of a saint at the Getty, carved in the late 1600s.
Peek inside Graham’s cool Hollywood shop and visit the Getty galleries with him in this #GettyInspired video.