Kat Howard

Colony Collapse

I make work that addresses women’s relationships to their bodies, and the roles that their bodies have played throughout history. “I am just the messenger, my hands have not marked this history,” is repeated over and over again in the historical documents I encounter during my research of women persecuted as witches. In my work, I try to capture this moment that occurs where society turns away from what is happening, in an attempt to hold the eye open. By using history as a lens to examine the female body, I am able to explore the charged awareness of my own body and identity as a survivor of physical and sexual violence. This piece is an interrogation of the aftermath of trauma, and the manmade halt to women’s transformation to equality, knowledge, and power.

Under the guise of witch, men systematically persecuted women who held knowledge or power, often killing midwives and healers, destroying entire matriarchal communities. Colony Collapse compares this history to man’s obsessive control, and resulting destruction in nature. Hundreds of farmed silk cocoons were dyed black and sliced open to display the empty shells left by the worms when they were forcibly removed before fully transforming. The cocoons almost entirely obscure my handwoven linen.

Colony Collapse
by Kat Howard
Handwoven linen with silk cacoons
32 X 32 X 1 inches


Kat Howard was born in Rochester, New York in 1984. She earned a BA in Creative Writing from Brandeis University in 2006, and worked at the Whitney Museum of American Art until 2010, when she left the museum world to pursue an MFA in Book Art & Creative Writing, which she received from Mills College in 2013. Since graduating, she has been working as an independent artist exhibiting her work across the country, and abroad. She also teaches book art and weaving workshops. Kat started her creative practice as a poet, but soon sought physical means to represent the fabric of her writing. She founded Book Meat Studio in 2009. Kat lives and works in Kingston, New York at the foothills of the Catskill Mountains set deep in the Hudson Valley.

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