February 3, 2020 Repository 224: The Flower, The Witch and the Pool Toy Posted In: community, contemporary art, exhibition of note

Exhibition Announcement

Below is my artist statement for the exhibition I will have in Portland in March. Please save the date for the opening, and come say hi!
Saturday, March 7, 2020, 6-8 PM, Luke’s Frame Shop (Albina Street location)

The Flower the Witch and the Pool Toy: New work by Catherine Haley Epstein

Her language does not contain, it carries; it does not hold back, it makes possible. When id is ambiguously uttered-the wonder of being several-she doesn’t defend herself against these unknown women whom she’s surprised at becoming, but derives pleasure from this gift of alterability. I am spacious, singing flesh, on which is grafted, no one knows which I, more or less human, but alive because of transformations. – Hélène Cixous 

In honor of women’s history month, and the ever precarious path of using the flower in one’s work, I’m presenting work lightly tethered to these themes. As a multidisciplinary artist, it’s imperative that I mix materials and meanings, where the alchemy becomes the most important aspect of the work, never the final product. Intuition is important to my work, and intuition is nurtured by relentless experimentation. As a way to invite the viewer into my creative process, I have frozen my studio and am sharing the work midstream. A true testament to the motto on my studio door “finish always, never complete”.

Flowers are remarkable and resilient. Their aggressive roots invade rough, unfriendly soil. They assert their bright growth on the sides of highways and asphalt cracks. Wildflowers latch onto walls and railings and fill jungles, deserts and woods. Rare species of orchids thrive in swamps, and the famous lotus only blooms the deeper in mud it gets. 

Like the flower, the creative process is remarkable and resilient. Also like the flower, which is usually plucked and enjoyed in a white vase outside its natural habitat, the creative process is hidden in exhibitions where artists and curators strive to present in a white cube their best, their most consistent and their most instagrammable work. While all of the work I am sharing is inspired by questions around the flower and the female, none of the work is part of a larger series, though they all act as seeds to new work. It’s my hope that in presenting the raw work, I invite a better understanding of the importance of chance and alchemy while creating art.

As a female artist I’ve always been aware of the the catch twenty-two in using a flower in one’s work. Is it decorative? Is it domestic? Is it sexual? Is it lazy? Is there a way to deconstruct the flower and present it in a way that keeps its actual power in place, and not merely act as a symbolic tool for human aesthetic pleasure? I haven’t answered the questions per say, though I’m searching. By using multiple mediums in my work, some relying heavily on the visual, some on scent, or some on touch I create different lenses for considering the flower. By dimming some senses, others come to focus and create new meanings of the flower’s potential. 

Also like the creative process – the flower’s power is in its resourcefulness and androgynous characteristics. Through its swollen bases, pistils, stamens, burrowing pollen and cross pollinations, the flower relies on many mediums such as bees, wind, wasps and butterflies to perpetuate and thrive. So too does the creative process. 

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