Paradigm Gallery: Caitlin McCormack at Scope Miami Beach
Caitlin McCormack received a BFA in Illustration in 2010 from the University of the Arts (Philadelphia, PA). She currently lives and works in Philadelphia, PA. McCormack has exhibited her work nationally and internationally. Select gallery exhibitions include Vanilla Gallery, Tokyo; Last Rites Gallery, NYC; Red Truck Gallery, New Orleans; Spoke Art, San Francisco; Jonathan Levine Projects, Jersey City; Antler Gallery, Portland; Stephen Romano Gallery, Brooklyn; La Luz de Jesus, Los Angeles; Paradigm Gallery + Studio, Philadelphia; Cotton Candy Machine, Brooklyn, amongst others. Her work has been presented in several museum shows including The Taubman Museum of Art, Roanoke; The Morbid Anatomy Museum, Brooklyn; and The Mütter Museum, Philadelphia; as well as Museum Rijswijk, Rijswijk NL.
What is your current work about and what are some things you are thinking about when creating?
Memory is a very integral aspect of why I make this work - I'm very interested in how, as time passes, our memories can become warped and unfamiliar, and how they can deviate so far from the actual event they are related to. Many of the works from Lazarus Taxa are specifically about trauma and how, regardless of one's attempts to stamp horrible memories down, they always return, like sludge monsters slithering out of a tar pit. My studio is obviously full of sunshine, haha.
Briefly describe your process from inspiration to execution. How does each piece come to life?
My process begins with a series of sketches, done after observing a specimen either in person at a museum, or from a photograph. I base my choice regarding the particular creature that I'm going to make on my own recollections - certain animals represent different incidents that have transpired, and have sort of a totemic significance. After that, I do some drawings from memory, to move away from a totally accurate depiction of the form, since my objective is to deviate from authenticity and allow the warping of memory to take hold. Then I mentally break the skeleton down into bits and crochet the individual bones with a small hook, stiffen the pieces with glue, allow them to dry, and assemble them into the full creature. The following weeks are spent adding more glue, and waiting until the piece is structurally sound enough to support itself, so that it can be mounted to a velvet base, or under a glass bell jar.
What do you hope your viewer feels or experiences when looking at your work?
I'm really open to any interpretation of what I do that a person might have - I guess it's interesting to me when the work conjures up some sort of an emotional response akin to what I was feeling during its creation. Some of the recent work is meant to invoke a fearsome or disconcerting response, but if that isn't successful, I'm glad to hear about anyone's personal interpretation. I love it when people feel engaged enough to go out of their way and describe their responses to the work.
What inspires or moves you in your life and studio practice?
I'm really intrigued by entropy, or at least my sort of half-cooked understanding of it, and how matter is in a constant process of breaking down and building up, and breaking down again. I think memory follows a similar trajectory, in a weird way, which is pretty cool. I don't think I would be making these things if I didn't grow up in the woods, surrounded by animals, or if I didn't become obsessed with horror films as a teenager.
Tell us about the work that will be on display at Scope during this year’s Art Basel Week in Miami. What is this year's focus?
A lot of the work for Scope is about the same traumatic elements as the work in Lazarus Taxa, except with some more decorative components. I suppose a portion of it relates to the mental embellishment of one's recollections, either as a coping mechanism or just an unintentional thing that happens over time.
Do the materials you choose add a significance to the meaning of each piece?
Definitely. A large portion of the work is constructed from cotton string that I inherited from my grandmother, who taught me how to crochet. I also use found fabric remnants, lace gloves, and even vintage lingerie, and try to conjure up imagined histories for each item before incorporating them into a piece, without knowing anything about the previous owner. It adds to the narrative of my work.
What are you most proud of in your art career up to this point?
I'm a pretty negative person, so pride isn't a thing that shows up in my head too often. I feel really lucky to be surrounded by a community of artists that I admire so strongly, and that a ton of them are actually people I can call friends. I think there's a sense of pride in that, for me - being in a place where I'm able to have friends that are a constant source of inspiration and encouragement.