The sheer beauty of Kate Breakey's hand-painted photographs of birds, flowers, and other small creatures is undeniable, however they are much more than simply beautiful nature images. They are also memento mori, for the subjects of her photographs are all deceased. As Ms. Breakey explains:
“Making photographic images of small deaths is, in a sense, my own version of natural history museum dioramas—a place where I can come to know my subjects in all their exquisite detail: the iridescence of their feathers, the patterns of their scales, the texture of their bones; a place where I can preserve them with grace and dignity and display them long after their bodies have gone. The difference, though, is that my creatures are not merely specimens, representative of their kind. They are individuals, each with a unique life story, a different tragic death, and each found in different stages of decomposition on their final journey towards dust—for there is beauty also in decay. I make these portraits larger than life. I make them my size, so that we’re on equal ground and we can meet each other eye to eye. I do all this because it is my gesture towards these delicate creatures whose lives and deaths happen all around us without notice, and because they have made an indelible mark on my soul.”
Ms. Breakey has also created a body of dramatic and beautiful still life works that are elegant in their simple forms and rich textures.
Kate Breakey has won numerous awards, including being named Houston Center for Photography's Artist of the Year for 2004, and her work appears in public and private collections across the world. Her work can also be found in museum collections, including: the Australian National Gallery, Canberra, ACT, Australia; Centre Nationale de la Photographie, Paris, France; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; Museum of Southeast Texas, Beaumont, TX; Osaka Museum, Osaka, Japan; Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson, Arizona, as well as many other institutions.
After living in Austin for nearly 10 years, Kate now resides in Tucson, Arizona.