For the past four decades, Catherine Evans has been a pioneering feminist artist involved in post-minimal and process artworks, using numerous varied media, including fabric, plastic, paper, wood, and found materials. She credits her creativity from early farm life and being a young single mother trying to survive, when improvising and repurposing were a necessity. Her “artistic brain” led to the kind of alchemy that converted life experiences and observations into art. Her repairing a car muffler with a tomato paste can, curtain rods, and muffler tape has everything to do with her future works.
Catherine has been sewing since the age of four. Using these early sewing and fiber skills she supported herself in costume design and apparel, working for a variety of places such as Trinity Repertory Theater and various movies produced in Rhode Island. These early skills are still an important part of her life and evident in her work.
In 2000 she obtained her first studio at ArtSpace Maynard.
“I create object art through assemblage of common items. A series often lasts for years, encompassing public art, sculpture, installations as well as repetitive and detailed work. I have always been involved in social justice issues trying to make a difference to make the world a better place. I worked as a community organizer, spent years at the ACLU and Common Cause. In Rhode Island, I was on the governor’s advisory commission for women. I worked in the court system for abused children, the disabled and elderly, and started a group for abused women. I am still active as a member of the Maynard ADA commission. My art is a pullback reaction to a chaotic world, an effort to make peace and order,” said Catherine about her artwork.
“Catherine is no doubt one of New England’s most important feminist sculptors and community participatory public artists and wants to share her art as a form of community celebration and recognition that art is a part of our everyday life. She combines highly unconventional and personal materials to create multiple sculptural forms and shapes. I believe she is grounded in and evolved from the seminal work of Eva Hesse in which she forged the art of grids, structures, clusters, patterns, and other forms of minimalism. Like Hesse, Catherine’s artwork has a sense of emotive power, a personality in which she weaves, sews, stitches, glues, screws, tapes her work together in a repetitive and labor-intensive process. Her work becomes metaphoric patterns of thinking, of dreaming, of working through her love of creation and communication,” said ArtSpace’s Executive Director Jerry Beck.
In this exhibition, Catherine’s work will be shown in four groupings: early work, work on paper, installation, and recent work.
The early works were sculptural use of familiar objects and experimentation with poured paint. She was accepted as a member of the Copley Society of Art through a series using poured paint on bathmats. This was a time of experimenting with process – “What happens if?”
Her work on paper was less about the object and more about surface and process. Works shown include beaded coffee stains, stitched and knotted hemp, and some collage. Her works on paper have been shown at Danforth Museum of Art, Fitchburg Museum of Art, Ann Street Gallery in Newburgh, New York, and as part of numerous group shows.
Catherine has created and installed installations throughout New England and New York, including at Chesterwood, Fuller Craft Museum, Danforth Museum of Art, Art in the Park Worcester, and many universities. A twenty-foot fiber piece made of braided, plastic gimp represents her installation work in this show. The large fiber gimp piece started as an exercise to teach a grandchild some simple stitches and turned into an obsession with doing, creating miles and miles of fiber. The blending and flow of the colors are seductive. This piece has continued to grow through the years as it has traveled from show to show, said Catherine.
Catherine is well known for her site-specific installations called “Thistle,” public art used to decoratively adorn trees through the use of fiber. Many have requested these installations to draw attention to the importance of natural areas. Thirty “Thistle” installations have been created at sites throughout New England, including an installation at Maynard’s Carbone Park, for which Catherine received a Cultural Grant.
Catherine’s recent works include large sculptures using whitewashed, imperfect wood and old textiles that seem to respond to our memories’ emotive power. This sculptural series is a study of material, line, color, and emotion. The related series of paintings are created from viewer feedback of their emotional reactions to the sculptural pieces. It has a calming and peaceful effect about it.