Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: Feminist Art Base: Catherine Forster

Catherine Forster

Catherine Forster is an artist, filmmaker, and independent curator based in the Chicago area. She received an M.F.A from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her artwork has been shown at the Notebaert Museum Chicago, Flint Institute of Art, Carnegie Art Museum, Grand Rapids Art Museum, South Bend Regional Art Museum, Contemporary Art Centre in Vilnius, Lithuania, Brick City Gallery, Missouri State University, Merwin Gallery Illinois Wesleyan University, Freewaves Los Angeles, Llewellyn Gallery, Alfred State College NY, City of Louisville Colorado Sculpture Garden, Orange County Contemporary Art Center, Exit Art (NY), and the Hyde Park Art Center Chicago, to name a few. Films have been screened at the Sao Paul International Short Film Festival, Krakow Intl. Short Film Festival, Magmart Film Festival Casoria International Contemporary Art Museum (Italy), East LA Intl Film Festival, the Great Lakes Intl. Film Festival, Chicago REEL Short Film Festival, the Other Venice Film Festival, CA, Echotrope New Media Arts Festival (Omaha), Simultan Media Arts Festival (Romania), Echo Park Film Center (LA), Directors Lounge (Berlin), and San Diego International Women Film Festival. Forster is also the founder and director of LiveBox, a roving gallery focused on new-media art.

The videos and images displayed in my portfolio are components of “Cactus, flower, fuck-off, love, roses,” a project exploring female identity beyond the biological. In Simone de Beauvoir’s writings for The Second Sex, she penned "One is not born a woman: one becomes a woman". De Beauvoir notes the difference between being female and being a woman – the latter is learned.

The project was activated by the convergence of multiple events: my daughter’s 13th birthday, and the coming out of my transgender adult daughter. Both enter puberty, one for the second time, during a period of confusing norms and expectations for women. Hostility towards women seems to be on the rise, at home with the War Against Women and abroad with intensifying ultra-traditional movements. Coming to terms with my own beliefs of womanhood, in the light of my daughter’s coming out, has been challenging. As a child I wanted no part of “womanhood”, I didn’t want to be a second-class citizen, yet my Transgender daughter wants only to be included. This project has pushed me to be fierce with the work, and to re-claim feminism.

Reaching out to the Transgender Community I discovered that the younger my participant, the more eloquent they are in Feminism, yet quite the opposite was true for cis (non-transgender) women - the older females are the resounding feminists. How fascinating it has been to discover feminism from my Trans daughter’s point of view - a perspective of lost privilege. It is?palpable when she shares slights with me that I don’t even notice. What I want to convey in my work is the subtle nature of “learned womanhood.” How pervasive are its tentacles, swaddling the girl child from the moment a pink cap is placed on its head at birth.

I watch both of my daughters evolve, exploring what it means to be female. How will my Transgender daughter ever make up for the socialization she has missed? How can she possibly catch-up? Or should she? I worry about my 13 year old, what will she leave behind, or embrace, as she forgoes her childhood and becomes a young woman? What societal pressures will she succumb to? Can she hold on to her identity, cultivate her aspirations, or is she predestined to be a construct of her environs?

View Catherine Forster's CV (PDF)

Cactus, flower, fuck-off, love, roses - flower girlCactus, flowers, fuck-off, love, roses - flower women: RebeccaMe NotCactus, flower, fuck-off, love, rose - Untitled #26Cactus, flower, fuck-off, love, rose - Untitled #17Cactus, flower, fuck-off, love, rose - Untitled #34Cactus, flower, fuck-off, love, rose - Untitled #15

Makeover"cactus, flower, f%#k-off, love, rose - flower girl"WE SHOP

Chicago, IL


Text, images, audio, and/or video in the Feminist Art Base are copyrighted by the contributing artists unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved.