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Art Show: Me, Myself, and I: The Self-Portrait Show


by Cathy (Kate) Johnson

Banner for Me, Myself, and I: The Self-Portrait Show art show

Art: Stop by Artist Cathy  (Kate) Johnson
I think in glacial terms. As a longtime student of history, I tend to take a very long view of "current" events, and I have a strong belief in the resilience of the human spirit. I love this country, even with all its problems, and as Winston Churchill once said, "It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried." Perhaps that is true...the checks and balances DO seem to work for us, over time, if a bit frighteningly unbalanced at any given moment.

Then this image intruded itself into my mind, and would NOT go away. An argument with an old old friend forced my hand, at least internally, and I knew I had to paint it...the pivotal moment when the second plane hit the Twin Towers, and what has happened to us as a country since.

Like almost everyone, I was deeply affected by that event, for a variety of reasons. It took a long time not to react to every plane that flew over, not to dread the news for fear of what might have happened next, not to fear for my friends and loved ones who were in harm's way. We lost a great deal of innocence and our sense of safety that day, along with thousands of innocent lives. The courage we saw in those who helped the survivors, and the caring between those people themselves was awe-inspiring. It affected us, and the world--and continues to affect us, for good or ill.

At first we DID pull together, as a people--here and abroad. What has happened since is increasingly painful. My painting is about that matrix.

So many decisions to be made, when tackling a subject like this...what size, what palette, what format, and more importantly, how much to spell out, what to leave ambiguous? It has not been a fun painting, or a relaxing one, but one I needed to do.

At first I thought I would not be able to bear to LOOK at it, and wondered how I could do a painting I'd have to hide from myself. But I find looking at it is healing, for me.

It isn't blatantly in-your-face, the symbology is not spelled out, though I considered many--the red octagon of a stop sign in the center, directional arrows, and more. As it is, it is stronger and more ambiguous without the overt political statements...perhaps the important thing about art is the meaning others read into it. It doesn't have to be exactly what the artist is feeling, or what she planned it to be about. In my mind, it should NOT be propaganda--it should capture our humanity...a larger purpose, or a different one...

And yes, this is a self portrait in many senses of the is about my feelings, my experience, my feeling caught in the middle, my despair...and I used myself as a model, in the center.

Detail Images

Detail Image for art Stop

Detail Image for art Stop


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