Kate Dash - been milky
Kate Dash describes herself as Mom/ Wife/ Artist/ Photographer/ That Bitch. Living in San Francisco, Kate’s ambition towards photography brought her to dive into it, owning the title of photographer— working and documenting and bringing her ideas to life. Colors begin the creative process, while experiences motivate the approach to photo shoots. Her work is compelling and bold. It is centered around moms, femmes, and herself as a mom in the city. Life is all connected and Kate does not stop, she learns and she grows with her daughters and creates beauty in life.
Were you always interested in photography and how did you create your career path?
In retrospect, yes, but I claimed to be a “photographer” in 2011. Before that I’d carry a camera with me damn-near everywhere and then I said, “F*ck it” to the voice in my head that told me I wasn’t or couldn’t own that title. The more I broke walls of self doubt with something that I’m passionate about, the easier it became to see myself being the best me; doing what I love while balancing my own life, my family, and society.
I was introduced to photography from a documenting and hobby standpoint through my dad. He’d always have film and tape on deck at vacations and family get togethers. That’s one reason I’m drawn to 35mm film; it has that sense of nostalgia. It’s something I’m very, very familiar with.
My art career has just begun. I’m a baby in the game. How I created this career path? I believe in myself. I’m down to fuck up. I’m down to get up. I’m down to share that process. I’m not going to stop. Period.
What is the message behind been.milky? And what do you advocate for?
Once you produce milk, you’re milky forever. With one exception, to whom I know personally. One of my sisters, who practices midwifery, is around babies so much, she can lactate. And yes, I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Other than THAT, your grandma, she’s BEEN MILKY. Lol
How has being a Filipina American and a mother affected what you create?
It’s all connected. I was born in Cebu, Philippines, moved to the Bay Area when I was four, raised in a Catholic Filipino household in the suburbs, and a mom at twenty-two in the City. All of my experiences have motivated me to keep going. I’m constantly reflecting on what I can do to learn and grow. It’s hella not easy, but when things constantly come up, that means the work is not done. Being a mom, my motivation is blood deep. Seeing my daughters learn so quickly, has motivated me to grow just as fast. I’m constantly balancing everything while maintaining me.
What do you find uplifting about your work?
My work uplifts me! Documenting moments of time make me so happy. Seeing all these different color combinations in one photograph makes me happy. Through that feeling, I choose to continue to do the work. Being able to make my ideas into reality is so much fun.
You photograph women and share a lot about motherhood, how important is it to share these stories?
On a scale from one to ten, hella f*cking important. I subconsciously and even consciously, take advantage of my mother’s unconditional love. Now being on the other end, full circle, I can see it and live it. I’m my mother. Not really, but I’m understanding the depth of a mother’s love. I like reminding everyone to be nice to their moms or some else’s moms. Our society pushes sex, but shames pregnant women. On top of that, women have this weird
competition mentality that was programmed in us. That’s a few reasons why I like to showcase femmes, moms being beautiful and strong, and documenting my own life as an art mama raising a family in the city.
How do you get into the creative process?
Colors are big for me so I start there. I think of what colors call me when I think of whatever I’m going to shoot. I make time. Everyone involved gets together. I get present, comfortable, grounded, and check on everyone else too. Then we shoot.
What has been instrumental in your personal and creative growth?
Not stopping. I’m down to mess up to find solutions to my mistakes. Finding a support system that holds me accountable as much as they show me love. And constantly reminding myself that I have something special to share.
Do you have any upcoming events or projects that you're excited about?
Yes! I’m showcasing work for the first time in San Jose, CA. It’ll be held at Martha Street Art Night on August 31st from 3pm to 10pm. This is special for two reasons; one, I was partially raised in San Jose, two, my brother now curates for this collective and invited his big sis!
I’ll be designing a set for a short film at the end of August. Not too many details for yall, but I’m super excited to be apart of this project. Shout out to bomb mom Emani!
Lastly, in September I’ll be at SWIM Gallery creating backdrops for folks to come through and get their portraits done by me. It’ll be sliding scale and you won’t be turned away for lack of funds. I call this my interactive photo installation.
Photos courtesy of Kate Dash / been milky
Profile photo by Vanessa Vigil @vavimami