Dreaming for Sofonisba (2022), 16" x 20".

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Catherine Haggarty: light from within

When viewing Brooklyn-based artist Catherine Haggarty's recent paintings and works on paper, there's a visceral experience of light, whether it's sunshine casting a shadow across a wooden floor or moonlight bathing a sleeping body. In some pieces, it even seems to be radiating from the subject itself.

It's an element that can be traced back through her earlier work, though the language clearly morphs through the passing years. Haggarty will be exploring this dialogue during her artist talk, "Past and Present Self," on March 14 in Milstein Auditorium at 5:15 p.m. An experienced mentor and teacher in addition to her art making, she has been sharing her experience and insights with AAP's M.F.A. students as the spring 2024 Teiger Mentor in the Arts. In advance of her public lecture, she offered her perspective on collaboration, critique, and the contagious excitement of making.

I really loved speaking with EJ Hauser, last fall's Teiger Mentor, about how the tools and media they were attracted to shaped the life in the work, perhaps on par with how a musician might be drawn to express musical ideas through a particular instrument, lending a timbre and character to what is being expressed. This stood out to me again when looking at your work, particularly in terms of how it captures light, so I wondered if we might begin there by speaking a bit about your relationship to your media of choice — how it began and how it's evolved.

I wasn't trained formally as a painter, so my relationship to media has always been a little bit scrappy, and even a little bit feral. I have been making drawings and paintings through the lens of a drawing hand for a long time. Only in 2017, 2018, did I start to experiment with airbrush as a medium to layer color in a different way and that really helped me open up ideas of light and of surface and of transparencies. An airbrush gun can do really sensitive, beautiful lines, but then it can also mask and softly lay over color with a really smooth surface and with a sort of nuance that fits my temperament. I think about light from within a painting and I think about color as a really layered and nuanced collaboration with drawing.

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