“Making the everyday otherworldly”

Cara Patterson for Pulse Magazine, Visual Art 10.13.05

Spirited Repose

Sprited Repose

Ever since the exhibit “BitStreams” hit the Whitney Museum in 2001, digital art seems to have gained mainstream acceptance. In a review of that event, Mark Stevens, art critic for New York magazine, wrote, “Given the limitless opportunities for unexpected and fantastic combinations, many digital artists have a strong surrealist bent.” That certainly could apply to Catherine Rutgers, whose pieces, though grounded in their use of everyday objects, take on an otherworldly character once they’ve been scanned into the computer.

For many digital artists, a piece begins on the computer screen. This is not the case for Rutgers, whose original source is often a collage of paint and natural objects on canvas, which she then digitizes with image capture, or high-resolution scan.

Take, for example, two prints from her upcoming show, which will be at Cunneen-Hackett Arts Center from Oct. 15 through Nov. 19 [2005]. Both “Saturated Bliss” and “Growing” began with a 15 by 15-inch, mixed-media canvas featuring spray paint and ailanthus leaves, two significant motifs for the artist.

“Magic Ride” is a high-resolution scan of two original sources: a photograph of the abandoned Coney Island parachute ride, and an 18 by 18-inch mixed-media on canvas.

“Spirited Repose,” another piece in the Poughkeepsie exhibit, highlights the dreamlike, meditative quality of her work. The work is a digital collage, with source material including silkscreen, spray paint and glue, the latter of which provided pattern and texture as it dried over the years. Rutgers says the work is abstract, with interpretation open to the viewer; indeed, it’s evocative enough to encourage viewers to see many different images within it.

Working with digital images, Rutgers says, makes her feel “enchanted.” Given the colorful, otherworldly nature of her prints, it’s a feeling she’s likely to communicate to her viewers.

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To view more of Catherine’s prints, please click here.

Saturated Bliss


Magic Ride