Art Adventures with Catherine Schwalbe


On  Lillstreet Studios

Cathi loves her studio at Lillstreet for several reasons, but mostly because of the freedom to make work and the flexible open studio hours. She describes it playfully as being “drunk with opportunity.” She has made work with a number of materials. You name it, she’s made a sculpture with it. She works with ceramics, metal, and  printmaking—taking mixed media to a whole new level. Some of her work is time-based, ephemeral, and performative.


Colorado Residency  

She made ephemeral time-based work during her residency at Colorado Art Ranch. The special thing about this particular residency, she says, is that scientists and artists work alongside each other during their stay. (What could be better than that?) During her Colorado residency, Cathi worked in proximity to a hydrologist and a Buddhist monk. She made clay from Colorado terrain, and then surrounded the designated clay-digging area with giant clay corncobs. She has the photo documentation of this beautifully impermanent piece as a print on the wall of her studio, and it’s cryptically fascinating.

Amaizing Grace


Future Projects and Sewing Forgiveness       

Cathi is gearing up for the fall with a project called Sewing Forgiveness, which will be a series of social practice performances in various locations throughout Chicago. She has already held a performance at the University Galleries at Governor’s State University, and is currently planning more for the fall. She describes acts of forgiveness as freeing—to forgive is to release a burden or, to use a more direct reference, baggage, as suitcases are used as part of the piece. Individuals who participate in Sewing Forgiveness receive a button out of the suitcase to be sewn onto an article of clothing of their choice. The button then becomes a reminder of forgiveness, so in turn the weight of the withholding of forgiveness [as symbolized by the keeper of the suitcase] is lifted—one button at a time.




Great Lakes Road Trip

Cathi’s new ceramic works are modeled after the Great Lakes. Their stark white color has to do with the way that the vast bodies of water reflect the snow for hundreds of miles. She took in this sensational view, and it became inspiration for a new ceramics series. The finished pieces will be on display soon in an upcoming exhibit at University Galleries.

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