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Check Out Katherine McDaniel’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Katherine McDaniel.

Hi Katherine, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
The idea that became Synkroniciti took a while to form. In 2012, I took part in a program sponsored by Houston Grand Opera called Houston Artists Respond. Poets and composers were given access to video recordings of local immigrants telling their stories and invited to create work in response, which was then performed by local artists. I decided to enter as a poet. I wrote a series of poems that told the story of women who had immigrated from Latin America to Houston and presented them in a concert setting at Baker Ripley Community Center. The experience of helping others to articulate their stories made an impression on me; this was something I wanted to explore further. My dream was to create and facilitate collaborative projects and Synkroniciti was envisioned as an arts incubator, a place where artists of all disciplines could come together. It evolved into a very active blog which helped me hone my talents at writing and curation.

In 2019, I decided that it was time to convert it into something more tangible and the quarterly online Magazine was born. The first issue was largely my friends contributing their substantial talents, but soon I was meeting folks from all over the world—six continents. I learned as I went along, from the technical aspects of creating the subscription e-book format to interviewing artists and writing feature articles. I love editing and layout; which is a good thing because that’s most of what I do. I also write a serial novel that is tucked away in the back of each issue. Synkroniciti Magazine has a good balance between local Houston artists and global artists. Each issue has a theme and draws work across the visual, literary and performing arts spectrum. Our interdisciplinary nature creates a great deal of variety. Many of our artists return in subsequent issues, sometimes in a new medium. It is a true pleasure to build relationships with amazing creative people. As of 2021, we have amassed enough of a subscription base to cover three contests per issue, each paying a small honorarium.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
In many ways, it has been a slow, organic process of experimenting and finding out what works, but there have been some big challenges. My home flooded three times. The first was in 2009, and pre-dated Synkroniciti, contributing to my resolve and capabilities. After you’ve rebuilt a house—yes, my husband and I were our own contractors—you realize that you have the ability to make things happen. Unfortunately, the next two floods, a year and a half apart in 2016 and 2017, derailed me, the last one being Harvey, which filled my house with almost 5 feet of water. After that, we finally had the funds to move, thankfully. It was too much, having to rebuild over and over again. Our new home is on high ground. It took a year or two before I didn’t get anxious during rainstorms. Synkroniciti had put out our third issue which was themed “Empathy” and had just opened the submissions for our fourth, appropriately themed “Uncharted,” when the pandemic hit. Things stood still and I was terrified that we wouldn’t get enough submissions.

Miraculously, we received work from five continents and turned out a 100-page issue, but it was all very “eleventh hour.” Many artists were in shock, dealing with the horror of the pandemic and the sterile atmosphere of quarantine. I had to be an effective cheerleader and sensitive while making sure that we had enough material. My mentor, MaryBeth Smith, a local advocate and Feldenkrais practitioner, died last summer and I poured her spirit into the fifth issue, “Labyrinth.” This was the beginning of an explosion of growth which is still expanding. I feel as if MaryBeth’s energy guides me, even though she isn’t here physically. She advised me when I named Synkroniciti, she created the first incarnation of our website, and she always had encouragement for the new turn that my projects were taking at any given moment. Without her, Synkroniciti would not exist.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I’m an interdisciplinary artist who thrives on collaboration. My living has been made as a musician, performer and voice teacher. In that vein, I am proud of my 15 seasons with the Houston Grand Opera Chorus. I’ve learned more there than I learned in college… and they pay me for it! I also love teaching because it is collaboration and not much competes with the glow in someone’s eyes when they do something well. But, to tell the truth, I have a lot of skills that I wasn’t using. I love writing: poetry, fantasy, non-fiction articles. I love composing music. I love painting and mixed-media work, crafting, collage and photography. I love editing and design. Synkroniciti gives me a way to maximize my creative engagement and to encourage others to do the same. It makes the world a lot less dreary.

The thing that I am most proud of in general, though, is more personal. My mother is 85. This the woman who read me The Lord of the Rings before I went to Kindergarten, provided me with poetry and beautifully illustrated books as I grew up, walked with me in nature, crafted and baked and colored by my side. She is the reason I am an artist. She’s in pain and depression was really getting the best of her. It was almost impossible to get her focus to turn outward, she was so overwhelmed.

One day, I told her “Mom, you have to find something to do.” We tried collaging. Uncertain of her dexterity at the time, I told her “I can cut for you.” She responded, “I can cut fine.” Her dexterity remains better than mine. She has made almost thirty collages in five months. To see the light come back in her eyes, to hear her puzzle out her newest creation… it is the best gift I have ever received. Art saves people. It redeems the time they have left here on earth. What makes me different? I love creating and working with creators! There are things you find in collaborating that you could never find by yourself. That lights me up.

Before we go, is there anything else you can share with us?
Synkroniciti is more than the Magazine. Before the pandemic, we held monthly creative playdates and readings at my house, which I have missed and look forward to reinstating. I’m hoping to host concert/performance events, too. During the pandemic, I have developed a weekly “Virtual Art Party” on Facebook Messenger. We get together to make stuff and chat on Sunday afternoons. In the future, I would like to create themed projects that span the globe, with physical and virtual manifestations. I am also working on an in-print anthology containing a selection of work from each volume called “Imprint.” I’m hoping to have that available via Amazon soon.

Pricing:

  • Synkronicit Magazine Online Subscription: $10 every six months ($20 per year), also includes free, unlimited submissions
  • Synkroniciti Magazine Online Individual Issue: $6 each
  • Submission Fees: $3 per submission as described on our website

Contact Info:

Image Credits
#1: Nino Khundadze, “Dandelion” #5: Katherine McDaniel, “Impact” #6: Mary Fries Johnson, “(The Struggle against) The Black Hole of Depression”

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