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Catherine Widgery

Artist Statement

While I have designed and installed 28 public art projects, it is my most recent environmental designs that I wish to talk about here to best give a sense of how I might approach future projects from an aesthetic and philosophical point of view. My work often uses light and wind to animate and transform the designed environment as the viewer moves through it.

In each of these current projects some aspect of the natural world has been brought to our attention in the form of patterns, textures or the play of wind and light. I am working to create a new vocabulary of image that marries the materials and structure of the built world with the beauty of natural elements and energy.

For the Mesa Arts Center, my work LIGHT STORM which will be installed in 2005 is made of tens of thousands of stainless steel discs that are set into paving indoors and out over an area of 27,000 square feet. The reflective pattern of these discs describes waves and vortices as if these points of light had rained down from the perforated metal sun screens and been blown into natural patterns by a strong desert wind. LIGHT STORM has no mass. It exists as reflected light and surrounding color.
Contact person Kate OíMara 480-644-4892.

Created for a pedestrian corridor next to the new Bellair building in downtown Toronto, the work LIGHT WIND proposes a series of white sails held in frames that follow the curve of a wave. These sails lift and ripple as the wind moves across them. Beneath the sails filtered light protects pedestrians from the summer sun. In winter, tiny white LED lights on metal mesh replace the sails; the lights forming their own wave patterns and ripples. Contact person Catherine Williams 416-961-9388. This work a proposal only.

I am currently beginning fabrication for two works at two different sites along the old Camino Real in Santa Fe, I was inspired by an ancient Native American image of two spirals that intertwine. These spirals suggest the Spanish and Native American cultures that became intertwined as a result of the trail. The work is entitled TRAIL OF DREAMS, TRAIL OF GHOSTS. One work is a dome in a city park is a light stencil of interpenetrating images from the religious beliefs of both cultures. The sun reveals the images woven together in the shadows cast on the surface below. Etched into the intertwining stone walls at the second site are images depicting the goods brought into the Indian world by the Spanish. These only become apparent as sunlight rakes across the surface. A large mosaic of stone, brass, concrete and glass depicts the voyage along the trail in a symbolic way. Contact person Debra Garcia 505-955-6707.

For a park near the new Broncos stadium in Denver, the work PASS THROUGH THE LAND was recently completed. I brought the rough textures and rich colors of the mountains into the urban environment. The massive boulders are set into concentric rings to suggest a labyrinth or maze, an ancient symbol of passage. Natureís forms are translated and ordered. At the entrance to this stone work are five 28 foot high towers with perforated metal silhouettes of aspen trees animated by hundreds of stainless discs hanging in the openings of the mesh. The wind creates wind chimes and a shimmering play of light. Visitors to the park pass beneath this grove and through the stone circles on their way to Invesco At Mile High Stadium. Contact person: Devlin Brown 303-244-1002.

I am currently designing a childrenís play area/artwork for the new Toronto airport where I have created a maze made of nylon scrim on which images of clouds have been printed. The rectangular volume is very much man-made but the translucent layers of cloud image is natureís beauty translated. At the heart of the maze is a central area where a fog machine has created a real cloud in which the children can play.

Transit stations have the potential for the kind of interactive environments that I enjoy creating as the traffic flow determines the experience of the work in potentially interesting ways.

The Centre for Contemporary Canadian Art
The Canadian Art Database: Canadian Artists Files

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