Catherine Day

Catherine Day





Artist Statement:

I photograph to make sense of my world. I work from what I am feeling, trying to capture and convey these feelings in a narrative. Markers in my life to be memorialized become the story’s beginning: loss, grief, family. Incorporated, too, are the feelings generated by these markers, serving as gestation for my images: confusion, searching for order, despair.

My photographs are also a response to the purely visual and are made to speak visually. My work is physically beautiful. The chance to quiet myself, empty myself, open myself to the purely visual is as essential to me as the communication of the chronicle. Once I have photographed, I choose images based on both visual impact and the ability to create a narrative that viewers will find personally persuasive. The finished work must be compelling on a completely visual level, as well as on a level of emotional resonance. Both must have a strong presence in order for the work to be successful for me. My work creates the sense of a story being told, while suggesting a story that is open and might be interpreted and finished differently by each reader. The work has to be cathartic to me personally, but engaging to a wider audience as well. Most recently much of my work has sought to capture in narrative recent losses, grief, and the family and familial influence, impact and involvement in the fictive. These pieces intonate something disturbing at work. Collectively understood, there is enough shown to see something going on, yet not enough to be a personal moment, a moment closed to outsiders. These images seek to capture the pain, dread and heartbreak of the moments I was experiencing in my own mourning, yet have the image not be about me at all, or the one I lost, but rather be about anyone’s pain and loss. Soft focus has long been part of my traditional camera imagery. That same imagery now uses the pixilated quality of low resolution digital images to similar effect. These radically pixilated images show colors much more like a pointillist painting than a photograph, and my recent work heightens this by using large scale and translucent fabric. While I have long been a black and white photographer, my recent working in color has been richly rewarding. The more formal sensibility of black and white has been superseded by more inclusive color immersion. This has removed a degree of separation that a viewer might experience or sense than when interacting with a black and white image. When composing, color is not a primary consideration. However, when choosing which images to pursue, color adds a new quality to consider. It is a new and exciting aspect to work with. I print my images on layers of translucent fabric, quite often silk. I have found that color is most successful in my work when it is deep, rich, and thick. The colors thus present themselves as envelopment. Seeking engagement to the point of absorption, I make images that are dark, as they insist the viewer moves into them. Multiple layers of fabric allow me to enrich and embellish that experience in a way that working on a single plane could not. As black as black is on a white piece of paper, it shallows by comparison to the richness and depth I am able to achieve on multiple layers of fabric. At the same time, the fabric speaks to the ephemeral nature of life itself and art as a reflection of that. Movement adds to the tactile quality of the work, and underscores the temporal element. The shifting layers change the focus and the intensity of the image, while adding an element of the quixotic. Movement creates a dreamlike landscape, allowing the piece to keep changing, just as memory and life does. Like an image of emotion, the fabric’s movement with a breeze, a breath, a touch, seems solid, then not. My work continues to change and speak, even after it has left my hands.

Low Tech will be showing at the Center for Fine Art Photography through the month of October.


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