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Catherine Howe

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“Proserpina” or, “I am Nature: semi- pure painting with spewing, sprouting buds and blooms, swirling strokes of luck, and at least several hidden birds, rabbits, squirrels, etc.”

This new series of works resemble still lives, portraiture, or landscapes. They are all bound to the story of Proserpina, the innocent maiden abducted by Hades and whisked away to a winter in hell. It must have been hot down there. She becomes a perfect vehicle for my fantasy of unburdened female beauty and power. Her abduction may not have been so tragic if we view it as a respite from the ravages of time and custom. She dwells in the underworld with an abundance of pleasure and immortal love. The world above is barren.

The paintings start with historical references including Dutch flower painting, botanical illustrations, and antique French prints, all created by men who observed beauty very closely. My initial re- imaging of these sources begin to give way to a “purer” way of making paintings where the forms emerge more spontaneously from my gestures. At this point, I stop the miming.

I start finding images after I make them. The paintings might resemble what a woman becomes if she breaks free from the confines of her body, leaving that burdensome object of the male gaze, etc., behind. The gestures become the traces of a painter’s desperate attempt to give birth to imagery without the responsibilities of parenthood. I could pretend they are made by magic, but in truth they come only from me.

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