Artist, motorcyclist and all-around babe Catherine Furman Brooks grew up in Richmond before relocating to Los Angeles in 2012. Her art is figurative and full of personal symbolism and close friends.
Artist, motorcyclist and all-around babe Catherine Furman Brooks grew up in Richmond before relocating to Los Angeles in 2012. Her art is figurative and full of personal symbolism and close friends. A graduate of Douglas Freeman high school in Richmond’s West End, Catherine went on to graduate with a BFA from Pratt University in Brooklyn, NY. Her work has been shown in Vietnam, Los Angeles, New York and most recently at Ghostprint Gallery in Richmond.
Mycorrhiza and Silvanus, oil on masonite, 19 x 15 in.
You grew up in Richmond, were educated at Pratt in Brooklyn and now live in LA. Does your location affect your art at all?
I have suspected [it does] for quite some time. My work changes over time [because] my cultural influences are different, [as well as] how much space I have to create and what resources [are available]. These [factors] are all part of WHERE you find yourself.
How is the East Coast art scene different from its West Coast counterpart?
The East Coast has always been less media influenced. The collective visual languages here [on the West Coast] vary enough to allow more room in the meaning of things.
Wunder Banners At Sunset, (2009), Oil & acrylic on masonite, 19 x 20″, 48 x 51 cm
Your work uses a lot of symbolism. How do you choose which symbols to use and what they represent? Do you use symbolism from any existing cultures or expressions?
Yes. [For] each piece I start with an idea I want to express. Over the span of time it takes to create a piece, [that original idea] changes. My intuitive attraction to imagery is often a sneaky little beetle. When a piece diverges from its original [concept], I usually have no idea why [or] what it means, but I just trust it. I know [the piece] will be autobiographical and I know when I am done… This is really two questions, so let’s break from the tone of dream worlds and the subconscious voice for a moment and discuss the voice of the global collective. The stories each family or tribe tell each other are variations on the same story. The visual languages are vast and cover a multitude of spectrums with obvious differences, but all stories are about Humans. Our story, with all of its symbols, color schemes and textures, is necessary to articulate the vast subtleties of the human experience. So I choose from every culture and [assign] meaning accordingly. I mix and match [cultural references], but not arbitrarily. Sociology, anthropology, and storytelling are my pet hobbies. I will devour any book, documentary, or thesis paper I can get my hands on. I am hungry to feel closer to the human experience [in order] to see more clearly my own, and to better tell the story of my friends and family. It almost seems counter-intuitive then to put my energy into something as cryptic and abstract as painting, but it’s not. Life is like that.
What are the biggest influences on your work? Why realism?
As much as I want to obliterate the walls that isolate all of us from each other… I am creating work from my own culture, about myself and our collective story. It is only natural that I allow the visual languages of Symbolists and American Romanticism to dominate my work. [These references are] far enough away in time to lose a great deal of [their] social connotations while [serving as] a base and structure in our imagery today. It is [simultaneously] completely dated and timeless, the perfect combination for Nostalgia. I want the people that will see my work to relate to it. Comedy and art, regardless of internal state of the [creator], are about the audience.
The Transplant (2009), oil/mixed media on masonite, 9″x12″
Your work often features people. Who are your favorite subjects to paint? What makes someone a good art model?
My friends, people I admire, beautiful men and batshit crazy women. All of those people have one thing in common: Grace at the mercy of the vastness of life’s potential. Grace and the secret knowledge in their heart that the massive nothingness is an equal reflection of their one great Power… I surround myself with people that inspire me. They tend to make the best models.
You’ve described Tamara Cervenka as your muse. How does she inspire you?
Tamara and I evolved together and in many ways because of each other. We take turns being each other’s muse. She is the smartest, vastest, bravest, most fearful woman I have ever met. Whatever she does, for better or for worse, fills me with awe.
Into The Void (2013), Oil on MDF, 4′ x4′
How did you first begin painting?
I was raised to be an artist. My parents could see early on I had a strong force that wouldn’t fit into paperwork very neatly. I suppose they felt it was the best path for me. I am lucky in many ways; that is one of them.
In addition to being super talented, you’re also very stylish. How would you describe your relationship to style and is it in any way linked to your other creative expressions?
Everything is everything and It could all use a good washing.
By Melina B (melinab.com)