Greene’s state of being

By Claire Cummings

Painter and printmaker Catherine Greene pursues the art of
being. Her work, showing in the Mezzanine Gallery at the University Theatre beginning Feb. 4, is a collection of still-life prints and paintings of everyday objects. Fruits like plums and pears and household items like plates and mugs make up her simple compositions. Greene says her focus on a meditative approach to living is an essential ingredient in her art-making.

"There’s a language to be learned in art; it’s a form of communication, and you’re only able to communicate what you can see," says Greene. "I tell my students that art is basically them, an out-picturing of their state of being. Your state of being is essential, inseparable from your art."

The University of Calgary Master of Fine Arts grad has exhibited throughout Alberta and taught courses at the U of C, the Alberta College of Art and Design and for the City of Calgary. This show is a departure from her usual focus on etching and Japanese woodblock printing. Despite this change of medium, Greene finds herself returning to the same subject matter and content.

"I’m interested in how the subject matter is talked about in the language of painting versus printmaking," she says. "The prints are supportive to the paintings. My thought was that people would find that this gives the show breadth."

The show’s title, From a State of Kissedness, reflects Greene’s desire to find significance in the mundane objects of the everyday.

"The show’s really about the ordinary things in our lives that are extraordinary when we stop and look at them," says Greene. "We think that things have to be big and grand to be meaningful and that ordinary means common."

Greene said her time at home with children and family life influenced her pensive view of common objects.

"That was my context. When I was at home my partner was also an artist, and we traded off, spending time in the studio," she says. "I wasn’t out in the nine to five world, I spent my time gardening, cooking, that sort of thing."

More than this, Greene believes that her study of being significantly affected the way she treats her subject matter.

"Looking at life’s meanings teaches you a way of being. It makes you more aware and observant, so you’re able to concentrate and focus," she said. "It gives you an ability to be aware on all sorts of levels. It helps you to actually see things."

Greene’s ability to see things brings depth and a sense of inner life to her works. Her still-lifes are the opposite of the French term for the genre, nature morte. Instead they are fully alive, allowing the viewer to reflect upon larger questions of what it means to be fully engaged with the world in which we live .

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