Back to her beginnings: BHS alum exhibits thought-provoking art in Coolidge Corner



Artist Katherine Mitchell DiRico’s show, “i’ll believe in anything for a while,” ran at Praise Shadows gallery in Coolidge Corner from February to March. DiRico graduated Brookline High School in 1997.

Sometimes our lives repeat themselves. Unpredictable patterns emerge, linking us back to former versions of ourselves. For artist Katherine Mitchell DiRico, who graduated Brookline High School in 1997, she never would have imagined that 25 years later, she would be exhibiting her work less than a mile away from her alma mater.

After high school, DiRico attended Smith College and then lived in San Francisco for six years. She returned to Boston and received her Master of Fine Arts degree from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

DiRico’s show, “i’ll believe in anything for a while,” was shown at Praise Shadows Gallery in Coolidge Corner from Feb. 11 to March 13. She explores the theme of loops and cycles, a pattern that emerges not just in the physical works displayed, but also within the process of creating this exhibition.

The founder and curator of Praise Shadows, Yng-Ru Chen, graduated BHS in 1996 and was the coxswain of DiRico’s boat on the crew team. Chen and DiRico lost touch for over two decades before realizing they had both ended up in the art world.

“To reconnect and slowly discover that you have such a professional respect for them is kind of magical,” DiRico said. “There’s a trust from growing up together. But then there’s this long pause of twenty years, where we didn’t have any idea what we were doing. And then we came back together.”

“i’ll believe in anything for a while” is an ethereal and captivating exhibition that plays with the psyche’s perception of time and reality. Initially simple pieces turn out to be more than what meets the eye.

DiRico draws on the time she spent outside during the pandemic with her two young kids. Her exhibition is her attempt to capture her shifting perception of the world, and she found herself coming back to the idea of a loop. She said she thought a lot about the interconnectedness of the aspects of the show and analyzed loops she saw in politics, relationships, technology and the pandemic.

The three large fluorescent acrylic panels that line one wall appear entirely vertical, but upon closer inspection are actually bowed towards the wall. DiRico said these panels represent how people had to change who and what they relied on during the pandemic.

“I’m really interested in the slipperiness of reality and the way that you can’t really hold on to anything,” DiRico said. “I work hard to make people on edge when they’re viewing the work. While I think of (the panels) as portraits in a certain way, I also see them as these representations of all the structures slipping away and bending and not being what they seem.”

In high school, DiRico decided to do a project on fluorescent lighting to stimulate herself in her chemistry class. Steve Lantos, who taught DiRico in that class and still teaches chemistry at the high school, remembers the unique project. Now, fluorescent neon materials are a key piece in her current exhibition. Once again, the concept of a loop plays a role in DiRico’s story.

“The compression of time, the dilation. I never dreamed I would be moving back to Boston. And I certainly never dreamed I would be in a gallery in Brookline, one block from my elementary school,” DiRico said.

Playing in the background of the gallery is a record that DiRico put together incorporating various sounds from the pandemic. It includes the lullaby she sings to her kids every night, noises of the ocean, clips from voicemails and sounds of a medical pump. She chose to use a record instead of a digital file to contrast the modern feel of the exhibit with materials she remembers from her childhood. The audio connects the gallery to a different time and place, further distorting reality.

DiRico expertly pushes those viewing her work to reanalyze and question what they believe, which leads to the title she chose for this show, “i’ll believe in anything for a while.”

“You have to believe in something or you can’t get out of bed in the morning,” DiRico said. “But you can’t get too attached either. The slippery nature of time and space, as a continuum and as a perception. Reality is something that we construct. And every time you think you know what reality is, you have to remember that it is your perception at that moment in time and space that can immediately dissolve.”

“i’ll believe in anything for a while” tells DiRico’s story, if you know how to look for it. Her art reflects her experiences and perceptions while leaving the details up for interpretation. The concepts she touches on serve as reminders that our world as we know it is subject to change, so we should appreciate beauty while it lasts.

“I’m trying to get viewers to become more conscious of their place in experiencing the world,” DiRico said. “It is something that is particularly unique to you, don’t take it for granted.”