Juxtapoz

Cathie Bleck "Avance" @ Firecat Projects, Chicago

August 27, 2015

Cathie Bleck will be opening a new exhibition, "Avance," at Firecat Projects in Chicago this evening. The new pieces  (over 30 paintings, journals and stone lithographs) are part of an ongoing series that explores the vulnerable nature of the human spirit and its immense resilience in the face of adversity," Bleck told us. "We continually pose questions like, “Now what? What will be? What will I do? When will it happen?" These questions articulate a moment in time when a transition is taking place, when the world inside us changes. I feel that the most important parts of being human are those moments when we have the courage to rise up and face our demons; it is at these transitions that life’s challenging circumstances are reshaped indefinitely. Rather than focusing on the before or after, I want to depict the state when something happens as we are moving through our lives. That is the point in time when we experience courage, love and transcendence.

Most things happen in a fog between reason and risk. We are fueled by dissatisfaction but also guided by hope and inspiration. As we follow the journey of transformation, we beam with insight and reason. We are intrigued by and become masters of the path between allure and illusion. We are fueled by freedom, bounty, and opportunity, yet comforted by familiarity, and grounded in hearths of our personal experience. We admire ability, endurance and austerity, whatever our state of vulnerability. We long to see the world with fresh eyes, yet often recoil from what we find. Mindful or not, within the churning magma of our being, we make order from chaos, and are thereby reborn. We let go of the broken feathers and visions of our "former wings," (which are hidden in many of these works), to find and re-find ourselves. In discovery we also discard what is unnecessary, which makes it possible for us to accept- or at least tolerate- the unanswerable questions.

Born of the earth, textured, layered, colored, excavated and sculptured; I have been exploring the medium of kaolin clay for over 30 years. I feel that my experiments in kaolin have come full circle with this multi-sensory and multi-dimensional exhibition of surfaces: both dark and light, with layers of clay in relief and in absence, and with textural irregularities that enhance my imaginary narratives. The visual complexities of surface and color unveil a world of images and relationships that are both fantastic and familiar to me. Organic shapes are often accidental, as are other repeated forms. Within the cast of characters that reappear in various pieces, I reflect on the inner human condition through different animal characteristics. Birds convey the freedom of flight, moving from place to place, like the passages of a human upon a spirit journey. The egg and the nest are associated with the cocoon, nurturing and hope. The owl, with its grand head and imposing eye, expresses calm poise, stillness and the perceptive vision one needs on a clouded path. Through its transformation and metamorphosis, the moth symbolizes elegance, truth and beauty, and also serves as a metaphor for the people who surrounded and support us through personal sacrifice, never asking for anything in return.

Many of the works are dark, but the light in these compositions is always moving the viewer in some direction. I think of the shadows as a kind of poetry that reaches into our subconscious, providing a transitory space between the dark and light areas. Darkness heightens our sense of awareness because you have to strain "to see-to touch-to hear-to feel" darkness. Light, however, is our greatest source in seeking a direction. Yet we cannot have one without the other, because the symbiotic duality between light and darkness is how we encounter our fears and continue to move forward."

Cathie Bleck: Avance
Firecat Projects
Chicago, IL

Opening reception: August 28th, 2015 7-10pm
On view through September 19th, 2015