This piece I just finished will be for a show at Thinkspace Gallery here in Los Angeles, in May. It is also going in a Rad Plant nursery Annual Catalog.. OH ,I know, I’m a big dork aren’t I ?
I wrote this for my Feature show at The Hive Gallery in September of 2007:
For the last year, I have been working continuously to Expand my artist “vocabulary” through the successes and failures I feel like I have finally learned what was important to me in my art, and what it is I am really exploring by making it. I began to develop my own personal mythology, based around the legends and tales passed down and weathered through oral tradition and the rise and fall of empires, they reflect my ideas on love, memory, and inexplicable human talent for personifying assigning responsibility to the cycles of life, and its manifestations. This show for me is a beginning, a birth. It is a collection of pearls and remnants, hints of great tales and legends to come.
It has been a slow progression interrupted by wild tangents, dead ends, and life. I think taking a moment to look backward two years will give me a perspective on my next steps. How much closer am I to mastering my paintings I as (objects) and my ideas and thought-maps ? When will I feel I am ready to step out of my safe windows of illusion…. When, if ever, will i reconcile my conceptual ambitions and my current abilities?
I haven’t sent The Proposition any work for a long long time, but I hope to be shipping a few piece to them soon. I think, because I have been going through a period of rapid growth for the last two years.
If you visit their website, you can see some very old work of mine from before I graduated from Pratt. I love them they are kind and terribly interesting people. Someone at the gallery, recently wrote this about the same body of work:
Catherine Brooks’ work centers on gender identity and the acts of exhibition and voyeurism. Her small paintings pop with texture, a bold use of color and the vibrant personalities of her subjects. Through the women she portrays, in their playful, revealing poses, Brooks makes the forbidden tantalizing while exploring fringe cultures of society.
January 28 – February 25, 2006
Opening night reception: Saturday, January 28th, 6-8pm
The Proposition Gallery is pleased to present Booby Goggles; an exhibition of new paintings by Los Angeles based artist Catherine Brooks.
Booby Goggles. Throughout Catherine Brooks’ career, there have been two major themes in her work: gender spectacle and the anti-hero. Playing no favorites in sex or race, her subject matter ranges from Luchadores to burlesque dancers, drawing from influences such as comics, the Internet, and movies.
Enthralled by the booming alternative-porn scene, Brooks interests currently fall on the beauties at the forefront of the “punk-porn” movement. Perhaps in reaction to how overexposed the traditional sex industry has become, Alt-porn creates an illusion of reality for it’s viewer, mixing personality into the commodity of sex.
In painting from these models, Brooks has distilled from the reality of their context: a new romance, a flash point, and the perfect smile.
Catherine Brooks’ was born in 1981 and recently received her BFA Fine Arts at Pratt Institute NYC in 2004. Brooks has exhibited at numerous group shows in New York and Los Angeles.
I was reading Allure magezine recently, I came across an article by Jean Thompson, about “TheGirl of My Dreams” it describes that woman or that couple that you see out in public that for just a moment you want to be them with all your heart. Its about that reflection or divide inbetween what you are and your imagined ideal self.
Tamara brought up that, regardless of the innate contradiction of this experience and the almost ridiculous level to which we project our own desires and meaning onto a complete stranger, it is an experience within your perception of reality. Therefore, internally it is a very real experience and not only was it not silly but it is vital. If it weren’t for that brief moment when some unsuspecting person transforms into the avatar of our dreams, would we continue to reach for these ideals? Without our fleeting muses would we continue to grow as people?
Regardless, once I come down from that aching euphoria, I can’t help but feel completely absurd for being inspired by someone else to be more like who I am. maybe I am more of a romantic than I have been able to admit.
I watched this today. It is in a way about a woman seeking out these experiences and confronting them. The woman she meets makes my heart race, my TGMOD for the day.
I like to think my work has a great many things to say about identity, that is: how we present our physical identity, our experience of self inside these physical avatars, and how we try to understand/translate these manifestations of self and others. How could it not? Are these themes not always prescent with portraiture? But, at least for now, this is not my focus. I feel more and more I am just constantly reinterpreting my early themes of the hero.
While, having inadiquate formal knowledge of The Hero ( I haven’t even read “The Hero of a Thousand Faces”, ) I feel like it plays and enormous role in society, society is after all, just a big discussion between the abstracted public selves, right? Keeping that in mind, I am always impressed that a few separate individuals could not only come to represent a set of ideals, but that for all practical purposes are them. And that in the past there are accounts of these conceptions remaining intact while in the physical presence of “the hero.” that in itself speaks volumes about the relativity of our personal perceptions.
Anyway I want to explore that place where a living individual and an allegory can exist together. How does the media present a human being as a symbol of say, sex and/or power. Sex and power are not quite dynamic enough to hold my attention artistically, but something richer that exists in the grey area of our moods. I would like to overhear the discussion between the person I am painting and the ideas they represent in the finished piece. I want to create work that has a certain effect on the viewer, to project specific experience. The likelyhood of ever being successful at this is slim to none, but that is probably a good thing, becuase I hope to be working on this for a while, and I lvoe imposible challenges…
I love the idea that I could oneday manipulate a combination of symbols to give the viewer a sensation of manifestations of great self or of something just greater than themselves. I’m not sure that is something I want to strive for yet. It would require a certain functioning grasp of transidentalism that I was under the impression only came with age and very strong pair of calves. I would be happy if I make a piece that someone could put themselves into, like the metaphor they use with the chalk art in Mary Popins.
I really enjoy multi-layered conceptual work posing as narrative. However, my process is somewhere in between automatic and alchemy, I often feel completely in the dark about what I am doing even though I am quite consciously doing it. This is not uncommon, i have seen but not read lots of books written on that very same experience. I am an atheist and still quite conservative (up tight?) about being in control of my life and self. While I have not entirely reconciled this direct “sensation of Source”, “flow”, and “loosing oneself,” I am happy respect the mind as being far to complex for me to comprehend. I hope to one day direct this agnostic attitude toward myself, and therefore have just a little bit nicer time of things. And when I have sneaking suspicion that my subconscious is have its way with me, I try to redirect my focus onto something it resonates with it as a compromise. Mostly, I prefer not to be to self-referential in my paintings. But I am coming to see that on some levels, working as i do now, that is a preposterous desire.
Today, I read on Wikepedia a selection at I resonate with, I have included it for posterity. I am quite sure it will affect an frequent and often literal presence in my future work.
pearls and pomegranates, meanings and interpretations.
I think its rad that pomegranate’s symbolize fertility, temptation, and death. also so people have speculated that it was Eden’s fruit of knowledge, if you compare the former meanings with the fact that it is considered the fruit of knowledge and not immortality, its pretty safe to say it is a fruit that symbolizes the temptation/choice to be part of the living/dying world, or our reality, rather than remaining “pure” innocent/separate from it. i wonder if anyone else picks up on that?
There are two basic drives that are first to develop in our brains, the pause to check drive, and the drive to seek out stimulation/take risks. this basic yes/no system that we have perpetuated in computers, is also fundamental to all aspects of our perceptions, it is a duality which manifests into the interpretation of most religions. abstain/partake, may be the most basic conflict to our beings but i highly doubt one finite choice was meant to lead to enlightenment or god. it is vital to our survival that we develop the drive to seek out and take risks hoping to gain food or learn by what we encounter. and luckily we can also draw on a deep well of collective learning to help us along the way. but i stress the word DRAW, rather than the word “follow” the first step to enlightenment i think aught to be conscienceness.
I think people aught to be more conscious about a lot of things, what they eat, where their stuff comes from and where it goes when we’re done with it. I try to never buy things new, but i still eat Carl’s Jr. every now and again, however if we are at least aware of what we are doing that is a huge step forward. you enter a world dominated by choice and not reaction. For better or for worse we will and must choose to partake. That is what it is to live.
When i depict pearls and pomegranates in my paintings i am drawing on my own idea of how we are exposed to experience and how we perceive it. A pearl is a precious thing, it also symbolizes purity and wisdom, but its physical structure also mirrors the onion theory, and its process also mirrors lessons learned by other people and experience that was hurtful or uncomfortable (i am still uncomfortable using the word negative in this application), which over time was processed into a refined idea , with layers upon layers of that beings thoughts and after thoughts on anything you can possibly relate to that first irritant. You can take that metaphor, considering also farmed and fake pearls to explore the nature of “truth” and its acceptance and value.
You can be given a pearl, or find it yourself and consider it when making decisions of action, but the Pomegranates also represent the aspect of action , It is both object of potential, and the action itself.It is the will to live, the libido, and its fruit [the consequence]. I feel like regret belongs more to the fruit than the pearl, mostly on account, that i connect regret with a reaction, that reaction being the discomfort that inspires a need for understanding and the formation of ideas and lessons.
So goes the symbolism of two elements in my art, and like any semiotic interpretation, you must also consider the objects in relation to each other. I hope to do some more writing on other elemnts in my work but thats all for now!