We've been fortunate to have been working with Catherine Moore since the first year of opening the gallery and we are thrilled to be debuting her first solo exhibition this month! In this new series of oil paintings entitled 'Girlhood Dreams and Darker Things', Moore continues to explore the wonder and beauty of the human experience filtered through imagination and storytelling. Influenced by the stories and books of her childhood, personal experiences, and her study of illustration her artwork is always filled with beautiful symbolism and intriguing motifs. We asked her a few questions about the new series, her work in general, and her life as an artist.
CM: I guess it started about a year ago when I was doing some sketching. I have this old picture of me from when I was about 4 or 5 years old wearing this creepy clown costume. One of my friends who saw it, thought it looked like I had been holding a knife in the picture, but it had since been Photoshopped out. So, I thought it would be fun to make a drawing of that picture with the knife included. After I had the sketch completed, I immediately wanted to do a painting of it. Somehow, that sparked something, because all of a sudden my head was flooded with images of little girls doing peculiar/creepy things. I wrote down as many ideas as I could think of and the series was born. The subjects were all based on interests that I had growing up. I was fascinated with magic and the occult, and I loved horror movies and books. I remember my best friend and I would sit in my walk-in closet and play with a Ouija board that we made ourselves. I had books on magic, witchcraft, ESP that I read religiously. I loved tarot cards, astrology, and other divination devices – something beyond the Magic 8-Ball. So, in some respects this is a tribute to that time in my life.
ME: What is the significance of young girls in your work? What is it about the symbol of youth that is important to this series?
CM: Our society and culture often depict little girls playing with dolls, wearing pink, painting their nails, baking, etc. And while those things are all well and good, these things simply don’t interest every little girl out there. I think it is more acceptable now a days to have a “Wednesday Addams” type of girl running around, but when I was growing up, it was quite out of the norm and I often felt alone and misunderstood. So these little girls represent different facets of myself as well as many others that may not fit the conventional mold.
Youth is a time of life when we are more open to the world around us. We believe in things - we accept the mysteries of life as our own truths as twisted as they may seem. Monsters live under the bed, magic is real, we can converse with the deceased, and toys come to life at night. While I still believe in some form of magic, it isn’t as prevalent as it was when I was a child. I hope that this series can reconnect viewers with that part of them that still believes.
ME: 'Girlhood Dreams and Darker Things' presents girls in unexpectedly macabre or dark settings. Is this somewhat autobiographical of your childhood?
CM: We’ll discount for a moment the time that my little sister and I locked a friend in our crawl space for who knows how long – minutes? Hours? Who can remember? But, for some reason, we never did see her after that. However, that really wasn’t a factor in creating this series.
Basically, these were the things that bore the greatest interest for me. I wanted to be able to tell the future and to be able to cast spells. I performed magic tricks (for myself) in my closet. I had a chemistry set that I loved, and I was sure I could be just like Dr. Frankenstein. I had a crush on Norman Bates after watching Psycho when I was around 10 years old. My stuffed animals were transformed into a myriad of characters when playing pretend games. So, to that end, it does reflect a bit of myself.
ME: Do you ever get interpretations of your work that you didn’t expect?
CM: I did a piece earlier this year for Nostalgia where a little girl was hugging her Darth Vader doll, title “Embracing the Dark Side”. Someone I know interpreted to mean that we should all embrace the darkness within us in order to let our light shine through. It was a spiritual teaching, but I can’t remember to whom it was originally attributed. I found that to be very interesting, and I loved their interpretation of it, but, in all honesty I was just a huge fan of Darth Vader and all things relating to him, and that’s what I painted.
ME: What is your art process?
CM: Procrastination. Lots of procrastination. Ha ha. No, really. I spend a lot of time “thinking” about any project before I start. Sometimes I doodle/sketch, or I write, or sometimes I just sit and stare blankly into space as an image forms in my head. So what seems like laziness is actually a big part of my creative process. Once I have a solid idea/image in my head, I get to work. I usually do a lot of research for my paintings. I collect a lot of reference for elements in the work, including taking reference photos of subjects if needed, and make sure that any symbolism I use is being properly interpreted. After that I work out the sketch – sometimes direct onto the panel - and once the under drawing is complete, I spray it with fixative and go over it with another coat of clear gesso, just to be safe, and start painting!
ME: What artists inspire you?
CM: Way too many to count! Disney movies and children’s books were my first inspirations – and what motivated me to become an artist. I am still very inspired by illustrators today. I keep many children’s books in my studio to keep me energized. Some of my favorites are Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac, Frank Frazetta (Right), Tony DiTerlizzi, Maurice Sendak (Center), and Lizbeth Zwerger (Left).
ME: What’s your daily life like? What are some things you do when you’re not painting / making art?
CM: I love creating, and I at least do some drawing even if I don’t have any deadlines. But when I’m not making art, my days are usually spent with my dog. Lounging on the couch and staring at each other. Binge watching shows on Netflix and Hulu. Considering a secondary career in LARPing. That sort of thing.
Girlhood Dreams and Darker Things opens December 13, 2014 at Modern Eden Gallery.
More info about the exhibition can be found HERE.