Look Up is comprised of mixed media works whose subject matter includes clouds, butterflies, landscape and hummingbirds. The subject matter may seem disparate at first glance, but upon closer inspection, the viewer begins to understand the artist’s consistency in the creative approach to these works. There is an underlying, almost metaphysical layer to Erb’s work. She is interested in exploring recognition beyond vision. How far can you deconstruct an image before it loses its essence? This process has been examined by others throughout the history of art. Although Georgia O’Keeffe painted from real life, (landscapes and flowers) her paintings are examples of early abstractions in the 20th century and she referred to her later work as being “beyond”. Was this a reference to her deteriorating vision as she aged or perhaps a more spiritual reference to the ever-present human search for meaning and purpose…or was she moving beyond boundaries? So, too, Catherine Erb is literally blurring the lines between representation and abstraction in order to get to a point where, as Erb says, “All that’s left is a deeper recognition with knowing.” The Hindu word Darshan is present in Erb’s mixed media works. It’s meaning is simply an opportunity to glimpse a deity or sacred object. This philosophy is woven into the works in Look Up.
Kathy McCarver, owner of KMR Arts says, “What I find fascinating about Catherine Erb’s work is its balance between realism and abstraction. Her work is inspiring, timeless, and very, very, very beautiful.”
These largescale pieces begin as photographs that Erb takes out of airplane windows while traveling. The images are then printed on watercolor paper. After adhering the paper to board, the artist then adds as many as 20 layers of encaustic wax and additional pigment to create a gauzy almost hazy look. The magic of these pictures is that they combine opposing impressions: hazy with clear, impressionism with realism, dream with fact, solidity with transparency.
Catherine Erb’s cloud series evokes moments in art history: Renaissance Italy, Baroque Rubens, now, tomorrow. They explore shape and form and energy while relating to a wide variety of artists who have used clouds as subject matter: Titian, Turner, Monet and modern artists such as April Gornik and Will Cotton. Within the medium of photography, Alfred Steiglitz created his revolutionary photographs of clouds, his Equivalentsseries, in the 1930’s. Steiglitz felt that clouds became abstract equivalents of his own thoughts, experiences and emotions. So, too, does Erb make that connection between “searching for glimpses of a thing's divine essence and being still and present enough to capture those moments.”
McCarver Root says, “Catherine and I were childhood friends in Memphis, Tennessee and then went out to make our way in the world. It has been a joy to reconnect with her through our mutual passion for photographic art. I am deeply impressed by her passion and devotion to her work and I feel immensely grateful that we can work together in the complimentary roles of artist and gallerist. Of course, the most important thing is that the work is stunning!”
Look Up is a concurrent exhibit with KMR Arts, 2 Titus Road, Washington Depot, Ct. 06794.
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