We had the good fortune of connecting with Katie Flores / Margie Flores and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Katie Flores / Margie Flores, as a parent, what do you feel is the most meaningful thing you’ve done for them?
When Katie “aged out” of the school district at 22 years old, her employment options and self-advocacy skills as an autistic young woman were limited. I knew I needed to be her voice and advocate.
Inspired by the book “Radical Inclusion,” I set out to provide a life for Katie that fed her passions and interests. I found it difficult to accept that just because Katie had autism, she couldn’t thrive in her chosen vocation. Instead, I wanted her to be immersed in a community of mentors and opportunities that fed her skills and brought her joy and purpose. Out of this desire for a meaningful life, Inclusion Art by Katie was created.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Katie is a color field painter with a passion for colorful arches and junk food. She is also a talented gestural painter of large abstracts. As an autistic individual, her art is a unique expression of the intensity and vibrancy of life that she otherwise struggles to communicate.
Katie loves exhibiting her work and participating in community art projects. She is extremely proud of her recent involvement in Young Art Outside the Frame 2021! In this project from the San Diego Museum of Art, she painted a mural on a utility box in Balboa Park.
On Tuesday April 27th, Katie and her mentor Amanda Saint Claire held an event the was open to the public at Fresh Paint Gallery in La Jolla entitled Radical Inclusion where they showcased their independent and collaborative paintings. It was a celebration of inclusion and mentorship.
Katie is also currently featured at the Cobalt Gallery in South Park in a show entitled Embracing Differences.
It takes a village for any artist to thrive, and in Katie’s case, it couldn’t be more accurate. Saint Claire serves as Katie’s mentor, working side-by-side with Katie in-studio and serving as a conduit to the rest of the world.
As an autistic artist, the challenges Katie faces in practicing her profession are numerous. She is unable to drive, read the calls for art, or fill out the necessary paperwork to participate in shows. She also needs assistance ordering and organizing supplies, carrying out ideas for paintings and selling her work. Katie benefits tremendously from the goodwill and generosity of the art community members that welcomes inclusivity and diversity. Katie is an ambassador of inclusivity and is proud of the role she plays in the art community.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
San Diego is a gem.
Katie’s favorite spots include the world-famous San Diego Zoo. No trip Katie takes to the zoo is complete without a ride on the Skyfari with a breathtaking view of Balboa Park and the city of San Diego.
Not surprisingly, afterward, Katie will lead you directly to the San Diego Museums of Art in Balboa Park. Her tour would be an insightful, honest description of paintings from the masters, including one of her most inspirational painters Frank Stella. Katie will also show you the prominently featured electrical box in Balboa Park that she painted as part of a project supported by the San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego Gas and Electric and Mindful Murals.
Next stop would be the breathtaking, seaside village of La Jolla where her current collaborative art show is being displayed at Fresh Paint Gallery. The high point of her tour would be the neighborhood of Hillcrest, known for its celebration of diversity and inclusion. Located in the heart of Hillcrest is Revision Creative Workspace, where Katie is a resident artist. Revision is a haven for artists with special needs, where they create and are provided the opportunity to sell their work. Your heart will forever change once you step into the doorway of Revision.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The biggest shoutout goes to my friend and visionary Andrea Moriarty. Her book “Radical Inclusion” changed my life and inspired me to think outside the box while planning the life goals of my children Katie and Kevin, both autistic. I observed Andrea create a rewarding life for her son Reid by finding mentors with shared passions. She also provided Reid with opportunities, including a podcast and speaking gigs to give him joy and purpose.
As our special needs children age, we must find mentors to teach them and navigate their passions. Katie’s mentor is Amanda Saint Claire, a professional artist who recognized and continues to develop her skills and passion. They collaborate on pieces periodically and work independently in their shared studio space. It is profound watching these two talented artists teach and inspire each other. Amanda has introduced Katie to a new world of opportunities, including art shows and projects that connect Katie with other artists in the community. Saint Claire’s support is imperative as it expands Katie’s natural support system as she ages.
Instagram: @inclusionartbykatie @amp_artistproject