“When I was a girl I fell in love with darkness. The tools I work with-pen, ink, and clay board-became natural choices for someone drawn to observe and record the world in close detail, and to best orchestrate the balance between opposing forces: light, dark; intimate, huge, static, moving”
I am best known for my intricate scratchboard paintings, involving a process similar in concept to woodblock printing. I work in the unusual medium of kaolin clay, which is fully archival and
painted on archival masonite boards. The Renaissance painters used this medium for their gesso. I suspect it never took off as an art material since it needs to be refrigerated for it’s bonding agent. I am exploring liquid kaolin in ways that I have never seen any artists replicate and both museum directors remarked they gave me shows because they have never seen anything like it. I carve delicate yet powerful lines from applications of laquer based ink (Sennelier brand) and pigmented clays revealing the clay underneath. Akin to my subject matter, typically images from nature, my medium is also from the earth (rich in minerals). I create my own pigments from liquid kaolin combining both color and texture resulting in a sculptural quality which is between 2D and 3D. These characteristics of my style promote a sensual quality and a rhythmic dance that I often struggle to control. With a reverence for storytelling, my subjects are both real and imagined, literal and figurative and almost always focused on the personal...looking outward and looking inward. My images and vocabulary are not only drawn to nature, but also to myth. I find the two intertwined, illuminating each other, as perhaps they have always been; one feeding and informing the other across cultures and across time. I am also inspired by an exploration of the forces, relationships, states, emotions, experiences and transitions that act upon us and flow through our lives.
My works for this show are an exploration of mythic images that call to or grow out of struggles and dilemmas of modern life; affecting how we as humans evolve and ultimately survive. I am fascinated by the power of love, which is reflected always.
Often obsessively detailed, one is pulled into and through a story. My goal is to make people stop, slow down and resist the impulse to move too quickly through their lives. I had many comments from the museum shows that people felt compelled to return to the works before they left the museum; a reflection about the visionary qualities of the work. I often ask the viewer, “What will you do next?” “What will unfold next?” Through this contemplation, often a sense of calm and peace transpires as the wheel of life moves onward. The works sometimes provoke people to write poetry, to be emotional or explore some inner voice. I feel as if I have achieved my goal with the work if my viewer responds in this way.
Additionally, the works explore themes on symbiosis, evolution, the need to nurture relationships and explore the mysteries of life.
I am inspired by the writings of Darwin, Niechte, Joseph Campbell, Lewis Hyde and T.S. Elliot. Artistic influences range from William Blake, Hokusai, Brugel, Diego Rivera, Thomas Hart Benton, and the great Wood engravers: Rockwell Kent, Lynd Ward, Wanda Gag, Claire Leighton, and contemporary artists such as Walton Ford and Julie Heffernan.
Cathie Bleck has exhibited world wide, most recently in two solo museum exhibitions at The Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown,OH and The New Britain Museum of American Art in New Britain, CT and at Meta Gallery in Toronto. A monograph of her artwork, “Open Spaces”, was published in 2006 by Mark Murphy Books with solo exhibitions following in Chicago, Cleveland and New York City.
Written By: Metropolitan Galleries
Cathie Bleck residing in Cleveland Heights, OH for the past twenty years started her successful career as an artist in Chicago, where she was born and raised. Subsequent moves brought her to New
York City, San Francisco, Dallas and England. Bleck worked as a successful, internationally respected
illustrator prior to publishing of a monograph of her artwork called “Open Spaces” in 2006, which quickly launched her career into the gallery world. Solo exhibitions followed in Chicago, Cleveland,
and New York City as well as two museum shows in one year. Bleck attracted The New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, CT who offered her a mid career retrospective for four months.
Following this exhibition, The Butler Museum in Youngstown, OH recently extended her solo
exhibition of New Works.
Her work has attracted collectors from around the world, including Meta Gallery owner Jody
Polishchuk who saw her book in Italy and offered her a solo exhibition at his gallery in Toronto this past February. Bleck continues to grow as artist, exploring scale, surface and subject matter in her passionate form of storytelling built from light - dark rhythms. Throughout her career, numerous international commissions underline the importance of Bleck’s work. In 2007 Cathie Bleck was awarded the prestigious honor of designing, in her clay-board technique, the U.S. State Department’s Earth Day Image. Bleck is represented by Enid Lawson Gallery in London, Kathleen Cullen Fine Arts
in New York City, Meta Gallery in Toronto, Yves La Roche in Montreal and was featured for the
second year at Art Basel in a group exhibition curated by Mark Murphy at the Gen Art Vanguard
New Contemporary Art Fair.