SWELL. A GROUP EXHIBITION ON SCAFFOLDING, curated by Lauren M. Pacheco.
I was thrilled to be part of this unorthodox exhibition this summer. Four of my pieces from two different bodies of work were on display from June 11 – August 28, 2021 at South Shore Arts Center, along with a fantastic group of Chicago area artists. Photos courtesy of Robert Chase Heishman.
Thanks to everyone who came out out see Mooring + Undercurrents: Voices of Southeast Chicago’s Immigrant Women at the Lubeznik Center for the Arts. If this were not able to make it out while the exhibition was up, I have now updated my website with images of this newest work. Click here to view.
Mooring + Undercurrents: Voices of Southeast Chicago’s Immigrant Women
An ongoing theme of my work is mooring, the sense of fitting securely into a specific culture and history —a time, a place, a people. There is a relationship between our histories (or our perceptions of our histories) and our identities, whether personal or cultural. It has been said that “communities are place-holders for stories, narratives, and myths,” inferring that geography and others also play a role in the formation of these narratives.
Although it only became clear to me as I sat down to write this statement, this current body of work is the result of questioning my own cultural moorings—an artist eager to create culturally meaningful work, yet struggling with feeling that I did not belong to any particular group for which I could speak. Then I came across the photograph of Anna Pocernich, my (maternal) great-grandmother who immigrated from Croatia toSoutheast Chicago as a young woman early in the 1900s. Her photo seemed so iconic, so heroic. There she stood, seemingly 7 feet tall, wearing her confident grin— larger than life, holding my 1-year-old mother like she was a sack of flour. My whole family is rooted in the working-class steel industry communities of Southeast Chicago—one set of grandparents lived in an area dubbed “Slag Valley” because of its proximity to the hill where Wisconsin Steel dumped train cars of orange glowing slag, lighting up the sky. The other came from the neighborhood of South Deering which is on the west side of the Wisconsin Steel and General Mills properties. The former grandfather and his brother owned a bakery in South Deering, that served these communities and all of the industry for years. These communities were largely built by immigrants since the emergence of the steel industry along the Calumet River, drawing young men and women searching for the “American Dream”—hope, safety, and economic opportunity – often fleeing war torn countries, oppressive economic conditions, or abusive families. Then there was a great-great grandmother on my Dad’s side, Bridget Harrington, who fled Athlone, Ireland just near the end of the Great Famine, boarding a ship in Liverpool, alone, at age 15. All of her family records in Ireland were destroyed, and since no oral histories were passed down, we are left to imagine whether her entire family died in the famine and what that long, long voyage must have been like. The only narrative she left behind was the family she built here with the Italian husband she met on the ship during her trip to America.
I became interested in the stories and contributions that immigrant women made to these Southeast side communities, and began conducting interviews with anyone willing to tell their own story, or the story of an ancestor. Some were willing and available for phone interviews, some e-mailed stories, some graciously sent copies of photographs and other documents. To date I have only collected second and third-hand stories—no women who are current immigrants have come forward to tell their own stories. This in itself poses interesting questions. These women immigrated to the US between the mid-1800s and 1960.
The use of topography is a recurring element in my work and is not intended to represent literal geography, but to serve as a metaphor for the narratives of these women’s lives. Their contributions and influences within these communities become a means of navigation, landforms around which moorings are created. Not all of these stories were happy ones. One woman simply recounted to her grandchildren “life was hard.” Yet they persevered, raised families, ran businesses, supported neighbors, built places of worship, and welcomed other immigrants as they found their places.
I photograph water, a lot. I am intrigued by the constant-yet-transient nature of water, and in the idea of currents and undercurrents. Flux is inherent in all of our stories. The large accordion book, Voices in the Undercurrents contains wave form patterns taken from the audio tracks of my interviews. They represent select portions of the recalled, sometimes uncertain stories of women from Mexico, Germany, Poland, Italy, Ireland, and Yugoslavia (Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, Slovenia). I am pondering whether these women’s silent voices still resonate as undercurrents in the communities they left behind, and the effect of economic and political undercurrents that threaten to erode cultural moorings. Well-established communities are vulnerable to socio-economic shifting. The Southeast side flourished between about 1900-1970, then in a disastrous turn of events suffered a grave economic blow with the decline of the U.S. steel industry and subsequent shutdown of Wisconsin Steelworks in 1980. It has not recovered to this day. The community struggled with hopelessness and despair, feeling forgotten. Within eight years of the mill closing, nearly one quarter of the 3,400 men and women employed there were dead, struggling with hopelessness and despair, feeling forgotten. “Forgotten” is a word I heard echoed during my interviews. With jobs in scarcity, the neighborhoods and cultural makeup of southeast Chicago have shifted as the children born during its boom moved to work and raise families in more economically prosperous areas, yet immigration continues and new cultural narratives will be, and are being, written.
The goal of this project is to make visible what is hidden, or even in danger of being lost; to honor the lives and stories of the women, past and present, who immigrated to this often-forgotten corner of Chicago; and to give light to the undercurrents of these communities and stories, and the erosion of these cultural moorings.
If you have a story to share, please contact me at CathyFeeman@gmail.com
Please join me tonight from 5-8Pm at the Lubeznik Center for the Arts for the opening reception for my newest exhibition in the Brincka/Cross Gallery, Mooring + Undercurrents: Voices of Southeast Chicago’s Immigrant Women in conjunction with the Local at LCA exhibition on view through February 29, 2020
Thanks to the Beacher Magazine for yesterday’s write up!
“Mooring + Undercurrents:Voices of Southeast Chicago’s Immigrant Women” at Lubeznik Center for the Arts
I am so very excited to have Mooring + Undercurrents:Voices of Southeast Chicago’s Immigrant Women installed and open at the Brincka/Cross Gallery at the Lubeznik Center for the Arts in Michigan City, IN, in conjunction with the Local at LCA exhibition throughout the Center!
Pictured here is just a portion of the new work on exhibit (for the first time!) and the first part of this ongoing new body of work.
I don’t want to give too much away, please come and enjoy this exhibit for yourself, on display through February 29. Join me at the reception on Friday, Feb 7, 5-8PM
I have been in the studio working hard in preparation for my upcoming exhibition, Mooring + Undercurrents : Voices of Southeast Chicago’s Immigrant Women on view January 25 through February 29, 2020 in the Brincka/Cross Gallery at the Lubeznik Center for the Arts in Michigan City, IN.
I am excited to introduce this ongoing project. All new works include paintings on panel, paper, and a large scale digital photographic media accordion book form.
I hope to see you at the opening reception on February 7, 5-8PM!
This exhibition is in conjunction with Local at LCA on display in Lubeznik’s Hyndman Gallery.
Image above: EXCELSIOR/the void between forgetting and the unknown; 24″x48″, oil and wax on birch panel. 2019
I am a Southeast-Chicago-born visual artist creating a body of work for an upcoming exhibition that explores cultural memory and identity, specifically connected to the stories of female immigrants to the Southeast side of Chicago – at any point from Chicago’s beginnings to present day.
A variety of large immigrant populations have settled and established strong and vibrant communities in Southeast Chicago since its beginnings, including immigrants from Italy, Yugoslavia (later Serbia, Croatia, etc.), Mexico, Greece, and Poland, to name a few. Communities are place-holders for stories, narratives, and myths, yet communities and their unique cultures are often subject to shifting socioeconomic and political undercurrents. I am looking to bring to life the stories that are in danger of being lost, even erased. The work seeks to honor and make visible the (very) often hidden lives and stories of individual immigrant women and the significant role they played (and continue to play) in the formation and life of this often-forgotten corner of Chicago.
If you or a relative has immigrated to Chicago’s Southeast side, I would love to hear their/your story. I am also looking for photographic and other imagery either of you/your relative that expresses a facet of their life and individuality to incorporate in a non-representational way into this project (this will not be a representational/realistic interpretation of any image of you/them). I will maintain your family privacy, this project is intended to honor, and inn no way to exploit. It is not mandatory that I use a real name for the purpose of the project; that would be your discretion.
Please contact me at CathyFeeman@gmail.com if your interest is piqued; whether you have more specific questions about the project, or want to set up a time to talk! These interviews can be conducted via Skype or other video call if you are more comfortable.
Examples of previous work can be seen on this website
If you can help with this project, please try to provide as much information as you can about the woman that immigrated to the Southeast side (whether it is you, or a relative), and consider the following list of questions:
- Where did she come from: (Country and town/city, and year of birth – and if deceased, year of death)
- What were the circumstances that led to immigration to US/Chicago? (When did she come here? What led to her coming here? Did any other relatives/spouse come along?)
- Where did she live in the Southeast side?
- Did she have children?
- Tell me something about her life here: was she or a family member a small business owner? Active in the community, or church? Did she work outside the home? Family oriented? Care giver?
- Did she have any special hobbies, interests, talents or skills? What was she like?
- Is there any particular anecdotal stories that help us know something about her personality, character?
** In addition to the painted portion of this exhibition, there is also a project that utilizes written ‘snippets’ of the stories collected, in the tellers own words. Having the ability to also get a portion of these written stories translated into the subject’s native language would be a powerful component to the project. If you can help with this, please let me know!
A great turnout for the reception of Shadow and Mooring on September 7, and many great conversations. A big thank you to everyone who came out!
One curator described my work as “seductive”. It is always interesting to see your work through someone else’s eyes. These paintings do need to be experienced in person, and will be on exhibit for more week (through September 29) at the Lubeznik Center for the Arts, Michigan City, In.
Detail from”Wavering Divergence”, below.
Opening Reception for Shadow and Mooring tonight (September 7) at The Lubeznik Center for the Arts, Michigan City, IN, 5-8pm. Hope to see you there!
The exhibit will be up through September 29.
(Updated preview below: after replacing a painting that was sold before the show opened.)
Shadow and Mooring;
an exhibition of new works by Cathy Feeman
at the Lubeznik Center for the Arts NIPSCO Education Studio, Michigan City, IN
August 30-September 29, 2018
I am excited to unveil new work in conjunction with Lubeznik’s current exhibition, Warhol: Icon and Influence
The subtle interaction between our past and present subsequently influences our interpretation of the future. My work seeks to provide a poetic observation of the internal and external influences that write and edit our autobiographies. It ultimately asks us to consider the role of the perception and recall of stories and myths, family histories and identities – or the absence thereof – in constructing and preserving personal and cultural narratives. Implying a sense of anchoring or stability, the theme of “mooring” is an underlying theme in my work.
Rooted in the midwestern working/middle class landscape of South Chicago and its suburbs, these painted and photo-based works are autobiographical in nature, prompted by real and inferred memories embedded in the shadows of appropriated family photographs, often employing mapping or topographical themes as metaphors for the moorings that influence the ways in which we engage with our world.
Please join me for a reception on Friday September 7, 5:00-8:00pm
In conjunction with CURE (Center for Urban and Regional Excellence) at IU Northwest, I will be teaching a (FREE) 4-week workshop during the month of April for artists 55+ of all skill levels who have a desire to learn to draw the human face.
Don’t be intimidated by figure or portrait drawing!
Drawing the human form is no different from drawing any other subject matter: this workshop will help you to recognize the combination of lines and shapes that comprise the human face, in a fun environment. Over the course of four, two-hour workshops, we will study the individual features of the human face, learn and sharpen techniques for drawing and shading with graphite pencil and charcoal, and complete a finished portrait drawing from a photograph of each participant’s choice.
- This four-part workshop will be held from 10:00am-12:00pm on Fridays, April 6, 13, 20, & 27 at Indiana University Northwest. All materials are provided.
- Senior University workshops are free and open to all those age 55 and better
- Registration is required. To register, call the Center for Urban and Regional Excellence at 219-980-6907 or email us at email@example.com
Come and meet new people, learn new skills, and have fun!
While ads have never appeared on my website when viewed on a computer, they have been apparently showing up in obnoxious numbers on phones! I apologize for this annoyance, and the problem has been taken care of.
So… please feel free to browse the pages of my website on your smartphone unhindered by distracting unauthorized advertising!
This is an installation shot of a few of my 11 new paintings just completed, and just recently photographed.
The 74th Annual Show, sponsored by South Shore Arts is on exhibit at the Munster center for Visual and Performing Arts though October 25, 2017.
I was honored to receive the Renee and Sam Denmark Memorial Award today for my piece, Comfort Zone Deliberation, from my current body of work.
There is still time to register for my six-week drawing course for adults ages 55+ through CURE‘s (Center for Urban and Regional Excellence) Senior University program at Indiana University Northwest!
Why should YOU take a drawing class?
- Drawing and art making are activities that anyone can do, at any age, anywhere
- Doing new things, especially things that challenge you, will keep your brain sharp!
- Drawing can be a very relaxing activity
- Drawing can be a great tool to process and express emotions, or relieve stress
- You will have FUN
- You will meet some new people
- You will feel really good about accomplishing something new
- (P.S., this class is also free!)
Whether you have never tried to draw (or never thought you could!), haven’t picked up art supplies in a very long time, or want to take your drawing to a new level, this class is for you! Weekly classes will introduce and reinforce concepts such as line, value, proportion and form, and composition while exploring expression with pencil, charcoal, and pen, drawing from both photographs and real life.
Classes will meet on Wednesdays between 2-4pm, July 26-August 30.
* This class is free, and all materials are provided, but you must register!
Register today by calling 219-980-6978 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
I will be teaching a six-week drawing course for adults ages 55 and up through the Center for Urban and Regional Excellence (CURE) Senior University program at Indiana University Northwest!
Did you know that drawing is a skill that anyone can learn?
Learning to “see” is the first key in learning how to draw. This fun class introduces beginners to important drawing skills and concepts, while helping those with previous drawing experiences advance in their skills. Six weekly classes will introduce and reinforce concepts such as line, value, proportion, and form. Students will gain confidence as they learn about composition and shading with pencil, charcoal, and pen, drawing from both photographs and real life. Everyone who participates in the class will achieve success in drawing!
Classes will meet on Wednesdays between 2-4pm, July 26-August 30.
* This class is free, and all materials are provided, but you must register!
Register today by calling 219-980-6978 or by emailing email@example.com.
For more information about CURE programming and projects, visit http://www.iun.edu/cure/programs/index.htm
Attention parents of 10-12 year olds in or near Northwest Indiana!
There are still spaces available at Indiana University Northwest’s first Kids College session.
I will be teaching a Drawing class for kids ages 10-12 meeting on Tuesdays and Thursdays 9:00-11:30am, June 13-22.
This will be a fun class is for beginners as well as those students who want to take their drawing skills to the next level! Students will gain confidence as they learn and incorporate new skills and concepts including proportion, composition, and shading techniques for pencil and charcoal to create bold and realistic drawings.
Fact: IU Northwest has been rated the safest IU campus!
I am thrilled to have one of my most recent paintings purchased by Indiana University Northwest!
I am hoping this piece finds a great new home on the walls of the new Arts & Sciences building opening for classes this fall!
Foreshadow, recall, and the tension of freedom; 24″ x 48″, oil and wax on panel.
I have been working on a new but related body of work, exploring the role of memory in shaping our identities and self-awareness, and the internal and external influences that constitute our autobiographies, our life stories and myths. Each of these new pieces references ideas of perception and identity, selectively appropriating shadows from archived family images.
The painting below is oil and wax on Arches oil paper, (which I am loving.) This piece is a bit smaller (22″ x 30″), but I am working on larger pieces, and am concurrently painting on panels. Those images will follow!
A glimpse of you, or someone else;
22″ x 30″, oil and wax on paper.
One in a new series, experimenting with Arches oil paper – and I am excited about the possibilities! These paintings coexist with my previous project, appropriating images from family photographs. This group extracts only the shadows from the archived photographs.
Shadows of an old storm; 22″ x 30″, oil and wax on paper.
Mooring has been installed, and opens today at White Ripple Gallery! Below is a sampling of the work in this exhibition.
I will be a special preview today, September 4, between 1-3 pm. I have 15 small proof-prints from the photographic work represented in the exhibition to give away to the first 15 guests.
The reception will take place in conjunction with White Ripple’s Second Saturday Event on Saturday, September 10, between 7-10 pm.