Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: Feminist Art Base: Catya Plate

Catya Plate

Born in 1962 in Barcelona, Spain, Catya Plate grew up in K?ln, Germany, with her Spanish mother and German father. She earned her fine arts degree at the Werkkunstschule K?ln and relocated to New York in 1987 through a Fulbright Scholarship to continue her post-graduate studies at the School of Visual Arts. Her constant travels between Spain and Germany instilled in her an interest and deep appreciation for other peoples and their cultures.

Plate also lived in London for three years and currently resides in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. In 1996 she received an Artist in the Marketplace award from the Bronx Museum of the Arts. Exhibitions include "Inner Child: Good and Evil in the Garden of Memories" at the Hunterdon Museum of Art, Clinton, NJ; "Pillow Talk: Small Comforts in Hard Times" at Ruth Bachofner Gallery in Los Angeles; "Dreams & Possibilities" at the Whitney Museum of American Art at Altria, New York, NY; "Free Play" at the Islip Art Museum, East Islip, NY and solo exhibitions at the Robert V. Fullerton Art Museum, San Bernardino, CA; Art Resources Transfer, New York, NY; Galerie Elten & Elten, Z?rich, Switzerland and Goethe Institut, New York, NY.

Known for her bizarrely fascinating, elaborate art that demonstrates an interesting fusion of her sensual Catalonian soul, her traditionally disciplined German education and her New York experience, Plate’s numerous exhibition and installation projects have been written about in The New York Times; The New York Sun; NY Arts Magazine; Neue Z?rcher Zeitung; The Standard Times;The Independent and LA Weekly.
Her art, which addresses life in an increasingly multicultural, multilingual and surreal world, is represented in numerous private and public collections including The Brooklyn Museum, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; New York Public Library, New York, NY; Lafayette College, Easton, PA; Ringling School of Art & Design, Sarasota, FL; Temple University, Philadelphia, PA; and Museo dei Tarocchi, Bologna, Italy.
My work relates to feminism in that it focuses on conventional domestic items and implements characterized by their intrinsic alignment with the feminine.

Clothespins play a key role in my artwork. Generally, clothespins are associated with the woman's task of doing the laundry and, in particular, hanging the clothes out to dry. In my drawings, paintings and objects, clothespins transcend that original function as I relate them to the human body. By allowing them to serve more exotic, whimsical and possibly painful purposes, our contemporary existence is brought under scrutiny.

Moving from clothespins as body attachments to anthropomorphic "Clothespin Freaks" was a natural step. The “Clothespin Freaks” are made of clear plastic clothespins, doll’s body parts and sewn pieces. They are the protagonists of the “Clothespin Tarot” drawings and artist’s book. In these drawings, the subversive “Clothespin Freaks” comment on our surfeit of self-help books and give serio-comical advice for our angst-ridden times, employing other feminine or feminist tools such as hatpins (symbol for the Suffragette movement of the early 20th Century), darners, buttons and thimbles.

The “Clothespin Freaks” also make their appearance with my dog Button in a series of paintings titled “Button in the Garden of Earthly Delights”. Here together they observe disturbingly surreal quasi-botanical forms which, at closer inspection, are seen to be isolated human body parts. Many of the elements in these acrylic paintings on panel are infused with my own blood to symbolize, among other things, the idea of sacrifice for betterment. The blood’s connotation with menstruation is natural and intentional, for this apparently mundane biological event has been subject to extraordinary symbolic and mystical elaboration in a wide variety of cultures.

I first began infusing my work with my blood in a series titled “Sanguine Bedtime Stories”. Resembling medieval reliquaries, these interactive boxy book constructions invite the viewer to open them like private diaries. With a coat of my own blood beneath the lacquered surface, they provoke contemplations on this red fluid and its myriad associations such as mortality, sexuality, female energy and magic. Opening the encasement reveals blood-stained fabric panels with obsessively elaborate stitching, embroidering, pinning and binding, activities typically seen as a woman’s handiwork. These features are apparent also in my recent projects, especially in the production of the two-headed “Clothespin Freak” clones.

View Catya Plate's CV (PDF)

Clothespin Mandala VIHatpin MandalaClothespin Tarot: Ten Of ButtonsClothespin Tarot -- Artist BookThe UnUsual Suspects-- Clothespin Freak Line-upButton In The Garden of Earthly Delights X"Sanguine Bedtime Stories" Installation with participant for "But Fear Itself" Exhibition, Lance Fung Gallery, New York, 2001

Promotional Trailer for "The Reading", an animated short film by Catya PlateI Have A Secret!

Brooklyn, NY

143 South 8th Street, #2B
Brooklyn, NY 11211

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