Greene County Council on the Arts (GCCA) is proud to present “Repeated Returning,” a solo exhibition of multidisciplinary artist Caitlin Parker who was recently in residency at the studios at MASS MoCA. Parker’s work involves printing on paper and fabric with pressed plants and experimentation with natural dyes, cyanotype process on fabric, sewing and weaving. Because of the artist’s deep connection to Nature in both her subject matter and process, GCCA chose to pair her solo exhibition with the group exhibition “New School” (in GCCA’s downstairs gallery), which will display contemporary artwork inspired by the Hudson River School that Thomas Cole founded. Both Repeated Returning and New School will be on display from June 16 through August 4, 2018, with a reception to be held on Saturday, June 16 from 6:00 to 8:00 pm at GCCA’s gallery, 398 Main Street, Catskill, NY. The reception is free and open to the public.
According to the artist, “repeated returning” is a meditative practice of continually refocusing one’s mind and staying present. The body of work in her first solo exhibition at GCCA is about trying to be in a moment, and then returning to it again through the work. Formally, this is expressed through the re-use of imagery, of materials and themes. Parker says that constantly changing the materials she uses, “keeps me a beginner with less attachment to future outcomes. Every cyanotype is a complete experiment filled with variables that can change the end result: fabric, chemicals, my son, the sun. The weavings and sewn paintings only reveal themselves as they’re being completed. And the ink paintings are unlike oil or acrylic in that you can’t go back and wipe or scrape something away. Every mark stays, for better or worse.”
Thematically, Parker’s work investigates the inherent tensions that occur between animals, plants and humans as they encroach on each other. Abandoned overgrown spaces, human interventions in nature, and the slow reclaiming of the manmade by the natural world make up the source inspiration. Transformations over time, literal and psychological, are explored through subject and material.
An avid gardener, Parker uses the plants she grows in her garden as both inspiration and subjects for her work. She collects and presses plants, coats them with natural dyes made from plants like goldenrod, madder, indigo, and coreopsis, and then ‘stamps’ the dyed plants onto fabric to create paintings on silk, cotton or linen.
The pressed plants also become part of the imagery used in the large-scale cyanotypes, which represent a specific period of time—12 minutes to be exact—that her son lays on the fabric and tries to be still. Like a daguerreotype photo, viewers can sense that passage of time in the final piece. In contrast, the weavings are very slow, almost static. The cut up paintings reflect the representation of memory.
“We remember certain events not as whole images, but in fragments, like a prism or a kaleidoscope,” says Parker. “Sometimes the image is so broken as to become obscured. I am trying to capture how my brain remembers, or doesn’t. When investigating these ideas, I’ve been inspired to invent new ways of ‘painting’, pulling from other disciplines.”
Caitlin Parker received her BA from the Slade School of Fine Art, London and her MFA in painting from Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College, Parker has exhibited her work in New York, California, Nevada, the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy. She has had solo shows at Wave Hill, Bronx, NY; Michael Steinberg Fine Art, NYC; and Rhodes and Mann Gallery, London. Parker has been the recipient of the Rodney Burn Prize, Bard College MFA fellowship, and Jerome Foundation Travel and Study Grant, which took her to conduct research and photograph Ukraine’s Chernobyl site. She grew up in Northern California and lives and works in upstate New York.
The Greene County Council on the Arts Gallery is located at 398 Main Street, Catskill, NY. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. GCCA is closed on Sundays. For more information on upcoming exhibits, events, artist and grant opportunities, visit www.greenearts.org or call 518-943-3400.
Abandoned House, Route 23, 2018, Natural dye on raw silk, 18 x 24 inches, by Caitlin Parker
Indigo Landscape, Indigo resist on cotton/linen, thread, 14 x 18 inches, by Caitlin Parker
Never Grow Up, 2018, Cyanotype on linen/cotton, 39 x 57 inches, by Caitlin Parker
Repeated Returning, 2018, Natural dye on linen/cotton and thread, 24 x 30 inches, by Caitlin Parker