Cathy McClure is an American artist and anti-disciplinarian. She received her BFA from Texas Tech University in 1995 then she received her MFA in 1997 from the University of Washington in Seattle. That same year, she received the Seattle Art Museum’s 19th Annual Betty Bowen Memorial Award. McClure has received multiple residencies, grants, and awards including Le Quai Fete in Paris, an Artist Trust Fellowship and recently, she was a 2018 Artist In Residence at Pilchuck Glass School and in 2021 she was an AIR at the Vashon Artist Residency. Her work is part of several public and private collections, including The Pace Collection in Dallas, the White House permanent collection and the Bard Collection in New York. She has had solo shows at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, the Nassau County Museum in New York and the Bellevue Arts Museum in Washington state. She has exhibited widely, including the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle, the Milton Hershey School Museum in Pennsylvania, the Louise Hopkins Underwood Center for the Arts in Texas and Art Miami Basel. McClure has been represented by Myerson Nowinski in Seattle and Edelman Arts, Heidi Neuhoff and Moss in New York and Connecticut, respectively. She is represented by Traver Gallery in the Pacific Northwest. Since 2017, she has been the Artist Consultant for the expansion of the Seattle Convention Center Summit in downtown Seattle. In addition to developing the art program for the Summit, she completed a large-scale public artwork for the new building, which opened in January of 2023.
As an anti-disciplinarian artist with a strong background in metal design, I am infused with boundless curiosity which propels me to explore materials, spaces and processes that push the boundaries of what art can be. My enthusiastic approach toward inventive methodologies raises questions about what is considered valuable and is accompanied by a wild preoccupation with the discrepancy between past perceptions of an imagined utopic techno-future and that future which we now inhabit. Often using toys as metaphors, my artworks highlight our societal penchant for instant gratification, over-production and habitually excessive consumption.
Hands wielding scissors, I massacre used, discarded battery-operated stuffed toys, eviscerating them through a Geppetto-like taxidermy until I get down into the guts of the piece. Skinning my Bots to the bone, all that remains are their various articulated pieces and parts, which contains the preserved mechanisms that gave these once-cuddly Elmos, elephants, Mickeys and roosters their peculiar movement and sound.
Disassembling the carcasses, I then re-cast the limbs and armatures in metal and engage in a Frankensteinian re-assembly of the new parts. What I build upon is buried deep within the cuteness. The reincarnations are wise and contemplative beasts that through metamorphosis have aged, even wizened. Reborn, my Bots wear their awkward walks with pride. Their new sterling silver and bronze bodies are unencumbered by youthful blubber and no longer yearn for your acceptance or cuddles - they are no longer concerned with pleasing you. Now, part historical/figural sculpture, part archaeological artifact, they become each a Trojan Horse, the cavity filled with a Pandora’s Box of memories.
The central characters in my zoetropic installations are tiny abstract mechano-morphic effigies made of precious metals. I arrange these mathematically on motorized spinning surfaces, light them with stroboscopic lights and project large kinetic shadows in the space. A choreographed musical performance plays out. Possessed silhouettes in flickering shadow juxtapose merriment and exhilaration with apprehension and bewilderment. These kinetic compositions illuminate our social disparities and are studies in deviance and spectacle, attraction and repulsion. There is also something dreamy and cinematic in the operation which alludes to modern life characterized by escapism, frenzy and consumption. It is also my intent to mesmerize and enchant through optical illusion and sound. In the past, the future was an unfamiliar and magical place filled with possibility; my interest lies in re-introducing some of that magic.
I’ve become increasingly interested in what happens when people gather together in crowds. I wonder if a chaotic space can become a “A Place in the Woods” and be transportive in a moment. To test that question, I collaborated with architects and lighting designers to create a lighting feature. This light and shadow, 8000 sq ft environment was inspired by the microscopic cellular structures of trees and the look of dappled light found in the forest. As you enter the space, light streams through perforated designs based on those micro cellular structures that now define a macro area. Now, rather than entering the forest, we stand at its precipice.
1997 MFA University of Washington, Seattle, WA
1995 BFA Texas Tech University, Cum Laude, Lubbock, TX
SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS
2023 Cathy McClure - Unearth, Traver Gallery, Seattle, WA
2021-2022 Cathy McClure: Re-Imagineering, School of Art Studio + Folio Gallery, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX
2020 Cathy McClure - ReImagineer, Louise Hopkins Underwood Center for the Arts, Lubbock, TX
2017-2018 Dispossessed, Center for Contemporary Art, Seattle, WA
2014-2015 Revisionism, Method Gallery, Seattle, WA
2013 MICKEY HARDWIRED, Moss Bureau, New York, NY
2012 Midway, Moss Bureau & Edelman Arts, New York, NY, Bellevue Arts Museum, Bellevue, WA
2010-2011 Curiosities, Traffic Art Space, New York, NY
2009-2010 Menagerie, Nassau County Museum, Roslyn Harbor, NY
2009 Remains, Moss Gallery, New York, NY
2007 Menagerie, Neuhoff/Edelman Gallery, New York, NY
2003 Meet George Jetson, Bumbershoot Music and Arts festival, Seattle, WA
2001 Here I Am, Entertain Me! Commencement Art Gallery, Tacoma, WA
1999 Team works, New Kinetic Sculpture, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA
1999 Le Quai Fete, Les Frigos, Paris, FR
1998 Carnival of Life, Meyerson & Nowinski, Seattle, WA
SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS
2023 Seattle Art Fair, Traver Gallery, Seattle, WA
2023 Coliseum Theater, Seattle, WA
2023 Art Market San Francisco, San Francisco, CA2023, Art on Paper, J. Reinhart Gallery, New York, NY
2017-2018 Sabbath, Dorothy Saxe Invitational, Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco, CA
2016 The Future is Now, Gallery One, Ellensburg, WA
2016 Electrique, The Hollows, Williamsburg, NY
2016 Giant Steps, King Street Station, Seattle, WA
2014 Pulse NY, Freight + Volume, New York, NY.
2013 Art Southampton, Edelman Arts, The Hamptons, NY
2012 MOSS: Dialogues Between Art & Design, Phillips de Pury & Company, New York, NY
2012 St. Sebastian, Art Miami, Edelman Arts, Miami, FL
2011 Arthur, Moss, New York, NY
2010 Art Miami, Edelman Arts, Miami, FL
2009 Art Miami, Moss, Miami, FL
2008 The Toy Show, Hans Weiss Newspace Gallery, Manchester, CT
2005 People Doing Strange Things With Electricity ll Center on Contemporary Art, Seattle, WA
2004 Hindsight: Frozen Moments, Consolidated Works, Seattle, WA
Cathy McClure: Reimagineer at LHUCA”, Glasstire, Texas, October 24, 2020.
Wynkoop, Gena. Artist of the Week: Cathy McClure, KOMO, Seattle Refined, March 23, 2019.
Flock, T.S. Art in Focus: Cathy McClure’s “State of the Union” at CoCA, Vanguard, January 4, 2018.
Boutiette, Isabel. Cathy McClure dissects toys in Dispossessed, Seattle Met, November 11, 2017.
Frohne, Lauren. 'Robotic Art Reveals Beauty Beneath Toys', Seattle Times, Dec 5, 2014.
Smith, LaVendrick. 'How Seattle Artist Cathy McClure Makes Metal Art', Seattle Times, Dec 5, 2014.
Hutson, Laura. Studio Visit, Cathy McClure, Nashville Scene, March 26, 2013.
Clemans, Gayle. Cathy McClure's 'Midway' at BAM, Seattle Times, July 28, 2011
Metcalf, Bruce. Remains: Cathy McClure, Metalsmith Magazine, Vol. 30, No. 3, Page 55. 2010
Vilades, Pilar. Now Showing / Stuffed Animals, Cuddly No More, New York Times, November 18, 2009
Kobasa, Stephen. Playing For Real-Reconsidering childhood things, Hartford Advocate, Feb 28, 2008
Baker, R.C. Best In Show – Cathy McClure Menagerie, Village Voice, November 20, 2007
Haden-Guest, Anthony. Affordable Art Bus is Always on Time, Financial Times, January 6/7, 2007
Graves, Jen. “The Arts:Fashion Is Electric, Individual, Fashion Is Art.” News Tribune, Aug 31, 2003
Sillman, Marcie. Dorkbot, The Beat, NPR, November, 2003
Fahey, Anna. The Impulse for First War of the New Millennium, Art Papers, September 2002
Christopher, Brian M. Sci-Fi Art Exhibit Pushes Envelope, Intelligencer Journal, January 19, 2001
Hall, Emily. Tinkerer’s Toy-Cathy McClure’s Nagging Animation Obsession, The Stranger, Aug 10, 2000
Maclay, Catherine. The Illusions of Zoetrope, Silicon Valley News, June 13, 1999
Bonetti, David. Solo Works Grab Attention at Yerba Buena Center, San Francisco Examiner, July 6, 1999
Updike, Robin. McClure’s Magic Circus, Intricate Installation by Young Artist, Seattle Times, Mar 12, 1998
Fredrickson, Eric. Zoetroparific! The Stranger, March 13, 1998
Updike, Robin. A Shadow Reality in trick of the Light. Artist Cathy McClure, Seattle Times, Nov 30,1997
CCS Bard Permanent Collection, Annondale-on-Hudson, NY
Asher and Michelle Edelman, New York, NY
Murray Moss and Franklin Getchell, Hamden, CT
Josh Rechnitz, New York, NY.
The Pace Collection, Dallas, TX
Barbara and Donald Tober, New York, NY
Guy and Nora Barron, West Bloomfield, MI
White House, Blue Room, permanent collection, Washington, DC
HONORS & PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE
2017-2023 Artist Consultant, Seattle Convention Center – Summit Addition Project, Seattle, WA
2023 Commissioned Public Artwork, Seattle Convention Center Summit, Seattle, WA
2021 Artist in Residence, Vashon Artist Residency, Vashon, WA
2020-2023 Public Artist Roster - Washington State Arts Commission, Olympia, WA
2020-2023 Public Artist Roster - The City of Seattle Office of Arts & Culture's Public Art Artist Roster
2020 Guest Speaker, 2020 Texas Metals Symposium, Lubbock, TX
2018 Artist in Residence, Pilchuck School of Glass, Stanwood, WA
2015-2018 Public Artist Roster - Washington State Arts Commission, Olympia, WA
2015 Guest Speaker, 2015 Texas Metals Symposium, Lubbock, TX
2014 Artist Trust Fellowship, Seattle, WA
2012-2015 Public Artist Roster – Washington State Arts Commission, Olympia, WA
2010 Artist in Residence, Traffic, New York, NY
2009 Merit Award, Poncho, 2009 Invitational, Seattle, WA
2000 Best in Show, Pacific Northwest Annual, Bellevue Art Museum, WA
People’s Choice Award, Pacific Northwest Annual, Bellevue Art Museum, WA
1999 Artist in Residence, Les Frigos, Paris, France
1997 Betty Bowen Memorial Award, Grand Prize, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA
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