Cat Balco, ‘Sweet Pink’, FRED.GIAMPIETRO Gallery

Artist Statement:

I always work with a central form. Often my motifs resemble stars or suns, though scale is ambiguous and forms often look more mechanical than natural. I prefer this central, sun-like form, because it is such an obvious, primeval image. Suns and stars are very easy to draw, are among the first subjects of children’s drawings, and are near universal symbols. Suns/stars can be casual, like doodles we might draw on the edge of a paper in a meeting, or highly significant, like carvings of the Egyptian Sun God Ra. Perhaps, as we learn in Genesis: “in the beginning, there was light.” If so, the sun/star is a very good place to begin. Symbols operate by holding space for viewers’ projections, and I especially appreciate the wide openness of the sun/star motif, which holds many meanings - both unique and shared – for many people. In the words of St. Augustine, the form feels to me to be both “so ancient, and so new.”

As a formal project, making a painting with a radial, central form requires a constant balancing, through color and form, of centripetal and centrifugal forces. This dance – between gathering to an inner center and expanding/diffusing to the outer space – mirrors the shifting dynamic between spiritual and material energies. I try to strike a potent balance, so that each painting feels explosive, filled with potential energy, yet remains held together through a strong adherence to the inner center.

I often pick up and rotate my paintings while working on them. Like Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man, my own body becomes a star mirroring their motif. Drips sometimes form in different directions, suggesting rotation, perhaps of a propeller, a water wheel, or something more carnivalesque, like a Ferris Wheel. The paintings also conjure darker wheel-like forms, like Catherine Wheels, which were named for my namesake St. Catherine and used to break the bodies of medieval convicts. I often feel emotional pain – rarely specific, typically without definable cause – when I work, and I think of rotation as healing, for, as I learned during the births of my two children, it is easier to bear pain while moving than while still.

For me, the paintings resemble radial engines of the sort that were manufactured in Connecticut, home to my working class ancestors for three generations, to power the fighter jets of World War II. They look like the mechanical weaving looms that my grandmother worked on, leaving her infant brother in a box until her shift ended and she could care for him again. And they look like the wheels of the railroads financed by Brown Brothers & Harriman, the Wall Street Firm that employed my father as an energy analyst beginning in the early 1970’s. My family crossed, then, though tentatively and not definitively, from the making to the owning class, and I have often wrestled, uncomfortably, with this divided history within myself. On one level, these paintings are about my ancestors, particularly the women, who lived through their repetitive, physical labor, all while bearing and raising children so that I, ultimately, could make my paintings. I turn the difficult feelings until their specificity dissipates. In its place I’m left with an awareness of the preciousness, the power, and the vulnerability of life. In many ways this is a religious feeling, or a spiritual feeling, and my paintings, which resemble the rose windows of cathedrals, are also about God.

SOLO EXHIBITIONS & PROJECTS DIRECTED
2014 The Ellipses Project, Real Art Ways, Hartford, CT
2013 Cat Balco: Recent Paintings, U n i v e r s i t y G a l l e r y , California State University at Sacramento, Sacramento, CA
A Shape Language, Frame 301 Gallery at Montserrat College of Art, Beverly, MA
2012 untitled, recent paintings by Cat Balco, Secretary of State Denise Merrill’s office, C T S t a t e C a p i t o l , Hartford, CT 2010 Tag & Repeat X2, large-scale public wall works through the SAP program, Artspace, New Haven, CT
2007 Cat Balco: Recent Paintings and Drawings, The Olin Gallery at Miss Porter’s School, Farmington, CT 2003 Cat Balco: Recent Paintings from Life, Blue Shoe Strategy at Union Square, New York, NY
Cat Balco: Recent Paintings, Red Mill Gallery at The Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, VT Cat Balco: Recent Paintings, Viewpoint Gallery at Union Square, New York, NY
COMMISSIONS
2013 Permanent wall painting installation in corporate conference room, Hobson Enterprises, Cheshire, CT 2010 Permanent wall painting installation in public lobby, 360 State Street, New Haven, CT
GROUP EXHIBITIONS
2015 Cloud Nine, Artspace, New Haven, CT (benefit auction)
2014 Thinking through Painting, Summer McNight Crosby Gallery, New Haven, CT
Improvised Showboat, New Haven, CT
Something Blue, Artspace, New Haven, CT (benefit auction) Vibrant, Whitney Center, Hamden, CT
2013 Fabrica, Court Square, Long Island City, NY
Yale MFA: Five Years Later, The Flinn Gallery, Greenwich, CT
Untitled Group Exhibition, JAM Archives at Printsource 2013, New York, NY
2012 Faculty Exhibition, Joseloff Gallery, University of Hartford, Hartford, CT
In Plain View, Nuartlink Gallery, Westport, CT
The Broadway Gala Benefit Auction, The Lyman Allen Museum, New London, CT MeganCraig&CatBalco,Seton Gallery, UniversityofNewHaven,NewHaven,CT
2011 Twofold, Cat Balco and Rachel Beach, Nuartlink, Westport, CT
Group Show, The Institute Library, New Haven, CT, curated by Stephen Vincent Kobasa
Faculty Exhibition, Joseloff Gallery, University of Hartford, Hartford, CT
Hope, Laba Gallery at the 14th Street Y , New York, NY
Future Tense, Participator.US, online exhibition of billboard concepts curated by David Borawski Chain Letter, Samson, Boston, MA
Grey Matter, The Painting Center, New York, NY
Gorky’s Granddaughter, West Cove Studio, New Haven, CT
benefit auction, Artspace,New Haven, CT (my 2010 painting Sun was a featured live auction item) Scrawl, Artspace, New Haven, CT
Scale Factor, West Cove Gallery Annex, West Haven CT
2010 Small Works Invitational, The Painting Center, New York, NY
Caliber, curated by Jonathan Waters, West Cove Gallery Annex, West Haven, CT
Cat Balco & Matthew Towers, Hans Weiss Newspace Gallery, Manchester Community College, Manchester, CT Faculty Exhibition, Joseloff Gallery, University of Hartford, Hartford, CT
2009 Somewhat Off the Wall Benefit Exhibition, The New Haven Arts Council at the O’Donnell Building, New Haven, CT Faculty Exhibition, Joseloff Gallery, University of Hartford, Hartford, CT StatusUpdate,curatedbyDonnaRuffandDebbieHess,Haskins Labs at Yale University,NewHaven,CT
Large Scale Wall Works by Cat Balco, Debbie Hesse, Ethan Boisvert, and Mystique, A-Space, West Haven, CT
Cat Balco and Sharka Hyland, School of Art Gallery at Pratt Munson-Williams Proctor Arts Institute, Utica, NY 2008 Abstraction/Distraction, Works by Jonathan Waters, Cat Balco, Emilia Dubicki, and Brian Wendler, A - S p a c e , West Haven, CT
Interspace: Line and Color, The Washington Art Association, Washington Depot, CT The Cabernet Initiative, curated by Vasken Mardikian, Mardikian Studio, Brooklyn, NY Faculty Exhibition, Joseloff Gallery, University of Hartford, Hartford, CT
2007 Faculty Exhibition, Joseloff Gallery, University of Hartford, Hartford, CT
M.F.A Thesis Exhibition, The Green Gallery at the Yale School of Art, New Haven, CT
2006 First Year MFA Exhibition, The Green Gallery at the Yale School of Art, New Haven, CT 2005 Josie Merck and Catharine Balco, The Atlantic Gallery, New York, NY
Roundtable Exhibition, Gregg Gallery at The National Arts Club, New York, NY ’Scapes, The Flinn Gallery at the Greenwich Public Library, Greenwich, CT The Young Talent Show, The Washington Art Association, Washington Depot, CT Holiday Show, The Atlantic Gallery, New York, NY
Catharine Balco, Eve Mansdorf, and Jeanne Moutassamy-Ashe, The Craven Gallery, Tisbury, MA
Catharine Balco and Alex Feyngold, Grand Lobby at Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn, NY 2004 Untitled, Mad Arts Gallery at the18th Street Studio Space, Brooklyn, NY
2003 Small Works Invitational, Soho 20 Gallery, New York, NY
2002 VSCStaffPainting,Red Mill Gallery at The Vermont Studio Center,Johnson,VT
2001 Selections from 25 Years of Alumni Artists, Deerfield Academy Memorial Gallery, Deerfield, MA
2000 Don Teeter and Catharine Balco, The MR Gallery, Burlington, VT
GRANTS AND AWARDS
2012 Arts Catalyze Placemaking Arts Leadership Grant, Connecticut Commission on the Arts, Hartford, CT 2012 Grant, Women’s Education and Leadership Fund, University of Hartford, West Hartford, CT
2012 Grant, Summer Stipend, The University of Hartford
2010 Grant, The Albers Foundation, Financial award given to Artspace to support my project Tag & Repeat x 2 2007 Helen Winternitz Award for Excellence in Painting, Yale School of Art, New Haven, CT
2006 Gloucester Landscape Painting Prize, Yale School of Art, New Haven, CT 2000 Vermont Community Foundation Artists’ Grant, Middlebury, VT
RESIDENCY FELLOWSHIPS
2008 Residency Fellowship, The Albers Foundation, Bethany, CT
2004 Residency Fellowship and Stipend, The Weir Farm Trust, Wilton, CT 2003 Residency Fellowship, The Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, VT
JURIED REGISTRIES
White Columns Emerging Artists Registry, juried by Matthew Higgs, White Columns Gallery, New York, NY HONORS
2009 Named Associate Fellow, Morse College at Yale University, New Haven, CT
CURATORIAL PROJECTS, JUROR POSITIONS, AND ART CONSULTANTSHIPS
2012 Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, Juror
CT Commission for Culture and Tourism, Juror, reviewed public art proposals for the UCONN School of Nursing, Storrs, CT
2011 Seton Gallery, University of New Haven, Juror
2010 Mindsets, exhibition of collaborative work by artists & scientists; co-curated with New Haven Arts Council Curator Debbie Hesse,
Haskins Labs at Yale, New Haven CT
West Hartford Art League, Juror, West Hartford, CT
2008 Art Consultant, Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, New Haven, CT
EDUCATION
Yale School of Art, New Haven, CT
MFA in Painting 2007
Helen Winternitz Award for Excellence in Painting
Yale University, New Haven, CT BA in Studio Art (Painting) 1997
Yale Summer School for Music and Art, Norfolk, CT Summer Residency Program 1996
Ellen Battel Stoekel Fellowship
Hartford Art School, University of Hartford, West Hartford, CT Associate Professor of Painting and Drawing, 2014 – present
Chair of the Fine Arts Department , 2014 - present
Assistant Professor of Painting and Drawing, 2007-2014

About Cat Balco