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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Catya Plate

Brooklyn,
USA

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.

Feminist Artist Statement

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.

<p>Clothespin Mandala VI</p>

Clothespin Mandala VI

circular self -portrait with wooden clothespins attached to the artist’s bare body.

Clothespin Mandala VI

circular self -portrait with wooden clothespins attached to the artist’s bare body.

Hatpin Mandala

portrait of an unknown woman from the Victorian era, possibly Suffragette, wearing a hat; stained and drawn with artist’s blood on fabric surrounded by a circular arrangement of embroidered hat pins.

Clothespin Tarot: Ten Of Buttons

Ten of Buttons stands in its underwear at the edge of a cornfield, touching the tall plants while gazing at the horizon. Behind the Clothespin Freak is a patch of green with two trees and a clothesline suspended between them. Eight pairs of trousers are attached to the clothesline by eight buttons. An additional pair of trousers with a button covers each tree top with its seat. The trouser legs stick up in the air like rabbit ears.

Clothespin Tarot—Artist Book

Self-published in 2007, edition of 50 and signed and numbered by the artist. Consists of an 86-page artist’s book with text and illustrations, a card tray with 78 cards, and a “Clothespin Freak” sculpture embedded in a secret compartment of the slipcase. All elements of the work are hand made and enclosed in a cloth-bound slipcase. Cloth-bound decorated with an embroidered appliqué featuring one of Plate’s “clothespin freak” designs on the front and the spine of the book as well as on the spine of the card tray. Since 2003, Plate has been working on the Clothespin Tarot, a series of watercolor and pencil drawings inspired by the 78 cards of the traditional Tarot.

The UnUsual Suspects—Clothespin Freak Line-up

Five two-headed “Clothespin Freak” dolls lining up in front of a fabricated “line-up” cardboard backdrop referencing the movie “The Usual Suspects”.

Button In The Garden of Earthly Delights X

“Clothespin Freak” in straight jacket with lizard tongue frolicking with artist’s dog Button in an imaginary autumn-like garden of “earthly delights”; trying to catch up with a floating isolated human foot.

“Sanguine Bedtime Stories” Installation with participant for “But Fear Itself” Exhibition, Lance Fung Gallery, New York, 2001

“During the installation, a long forgotten memory comes to mind and takes shape. As I saturate the wall with red paint I am reminded of my father shooting Morphine into veins which had been pierced too often so that the injection needle would bounce off and make his blood splatter all over the walls. While stenciling the bio-hazard symbol in a pattern all over the red painted wall the horror of this experience has lost its potency and merely exists as a mark on the wall.

Hinged on the wall and placed on a black shelf, each three-dimensional ‘blood story’ is encased in wood and closes with a brass catch in the front. The viewer is invited to open my personal diary and by doing so emphasizes the blurred line between the private and the public. The golden color of the brass hardware which supports and adorns the wall-hanging objects conveys a sense of preciousness and mystery. But the red-painted and blood-stained outsides are imprinted with the bio-hazard symbol, adding the notion of danger to the pieces. Upon opening the leaves of the book, fragments of the human body drawn with my own blood on latex and sewn onto stretched maroon/red-colored and bloodstained bandanas are revealed. The use of fabric and color refers to the handkerchief code for blood fetish, vampirism and menstruation, which is utilized by some S/M and gay groups to tell the potential partner of their particular sexual preference.”

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

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