“I believe that visual images – patterns, shapes, lines are expressed subconsciously in my art. I approach my work in fiber with the understanding that I am in the process of discovery. Once I am “into” a quilt composition I disappear into the many relationships that are possible”. Catherine Whall Smith
Re-entering her world of quilts after a long period of work in the field of Education – Catherine Smith is foremost a quilter – living in Chaplin, CT. At this time she designs her quilts through the process of discovery. Discovery of the relationships of fabric, pattern, color, and a limited variety of shapes.
(image: Circles series)
Recently, I had the privilege of interviewing Cathy Smith, artistic explorer and intuitive quilter. She graciously answered my questions about her life, work and creative goals. Here is a glimpse into the mind of your colleague and fellow Nutmeg artist, Cathy Whall Smith. ~Kate Themel
In Her Own Words
How long have you been quilting?
Forever!!!!! - No really, I've sewed all my life but didn't get into quilting until the mid 1970's.
How did you get into non-traditional quilting?
It seemed to be immediate – after completing one traditional quilt “Bear Paws” – I was off creating my own statements.
What are your goals?
My goals include recognition as an artist that uses fiber as her medium of expression. Gallery representation and being juried into major art shows are always important. Foremost making a statement that connects to the viewer is the ultimate goal - “in my mind true art is a dialogue between the artist and the viewer”.
What life experiences & skills do you feel you bring into your artwork?
October 1st , which is the start of the “Artist of the Month” blog just happens to be my 64th birthday – so I would say that having a very full life – family, friends, many passions, and being a Libra explains my patience and balanced personality that keeps me focused and moving toward my goals, while living in the moment.
How would you describe your artistic style?
Very abstract and minimal
(image: Drilling for Oil)
What are you trying to portray with your art (at the moment)?
Presently I am exploring the visual space that is created with simple shapes – my favorite shape is the line.
What/Who inspires you?
Life and to name a few, the art of:
- Edouard Vuillard – his shapes, color, and pattern combinations
- Milton Avery – his simple shapes
- Pierre Bonnard – his saturated colors and the use of whites
- Rothko – his simplicity but yet complexity of colors
- Barbara Hepworth – her strong sculptures of the 1960's
- and of course Nancy Crow's work that endures forever
Where do you do most of your artwork?
At the moment my home studio works for me – but I can imagine the need for a larger space in the future.
Have you made missteps along your artistic journey, and what did you learn from the experience?
Even though I pursued a career in education for many years, I always knew that I would eventually return full time to creating art quilts. My career used my organizational talents – and gave me the financial security that now allows me to pursue my art.
What are you most proud of when it comes to your artwork?
Most people love my use of color sometimes my unexpected combinations really connect to the viewer.
Which do you enjoy the more: the process or the results?
Definitely the process – the process drives me to continue to work on a daily basis.
Tolland Art Center – 22 Tolland Green, Tolland Green - “Kindred Spirits” dual show
Painting by Barbara Lussier / Art Quilts by Catherine Smith
Read more about the show in the Hartford Courant
(image: Cathy standing between her quilt Yellow #1 and a landscape by Barbara Lussier, at the Tolland Art Center)
Open Studio “SMITHSTITCH” – 44 Chaplin Street / Chaplin, Connecticut
Participating in the Artist Open Studio of Northeast Connecticut Tour on Saturday, December 5th and
Sunday, December 6th, 2009.
Thank you Cathy, for taking the time to share your thoughts and provide an insight into your creative process.