Notre Dame artist and alumna starts collaboration with Irish Woodworks

NOW: Notre Dame artist and alumna starts collaboration with Irish Woodworks

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- “I go back to the Latin phrase in my mind a lot, life is short, art is long,” says Kathleen Keifer. “Art is a generational experience, the art that you buy at my show this weekend in the hazy future might be given to your children or someone else, and the power of art beyond what anyone can predict is the power to inspire.”

For Kathleen Keifer, art has always come naturally.

“I do not actually know what I am going to paint, I think there is a mysterious part of my subconscious that’s working out these connections and problems, often I wake up I have that answer,” says Keifer. “Sometimes it is clear sometimes it is out of the blue.” 

But one place in particular makes this inspiration come that much easier.

“I like to paint real things, when I am on campus, I like to be really on campus and paint what I see.”

The University of Notre Dame. Kathleen Keifer is a third-generation graduate from Notre Dame. In fact, out of her 7 siblings, 5 of them attended school in fighting Irish territory.

The Notre Dame family has always played a significant role in her life. And now, it’s playing a role in her work, too.

“Yes, it is a family I am a part of. I love combining memorabilia with art. I think it makes the memorabilia more meaningful and valuable, and I think it makes the art more meaningful and valuable.”

This football season, Kathleen began collaborating with Irish Woodworks. The customs woodwork business makes Notre Dame products for fans, students and benefactors, alike. It is made from ND, for ND, to support ND. And now, their items have an added twist. Kathleen takes the products of Irish Woodworks, and adds her own paintings to the mix.

Her latest collection showcases the University and all of the traditions it entails.

“This looks like a normal piece of wood but it is not, it is from 1888 and it helped keep up the façade of the window that held up the golden dome. It was replaced in 1955. To me, this is like a relic, so they put the provenance on the back so the buyer understands where it is from then I create art on the front.”

But her work goes beyond memorabilia. Some of her pieces portray new traditions such as her interpretation of the stadium light show.

“So this is my culture, so when I am presented with an object I have all of this history I am aware of and this enthusiasm being a Notre Dame fan”

For Irish Woodworks, elevating their products to an even greater personalized experience, is bringing more value to their art.

“It is very inspirational to take something beautiful and bring it to another level of specialness,” says Emily Tyson, Manager of Irish Woodworks.  

While the University inspires Kathleen’s work, she is hopeful her work can give back, and inspire more generations to come.

“You do not know the stories I have heard of someone looking at a painting and saying where is that and inspiring an athlete or scholar to find out about Notre Dame and maybe attend here. Art has the power to inspire, and it is generational.”

Learn more about Irish Woodworks here. Learn more about Kathleen here.

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