Time for a little intermission

Hello, hello!

I cannot thank all of you enough for following my blog for the past year.  This forum has provided me ways to explore my own thinking as well as share my developments as an artist with an interested and encouraging public.

However, in the past several months, my artwork has undergone a marked shift, and as such, my online presence needs to reflect that shift as well.

I will be pausing this blog but leaving it public for the time being, since many of you have made wonderful comments on previous posts.

I may pick this blog back up, or another one in a similar vein, after my art has undergone another transformation, but for now, I trust you can understand the need to metamorphose.

Biggest hugs, love, and kisses,


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Cape Town Sketchbook Available to Purchase!

A lot of folks had expressed interest in seeing/owning a copy of the sketchbook I created during my residency in Cape Town.  Self-publishing through Lulu was a great way to make the book available to everyone!

A preview of some of the pages from “A Warm Space to Disappear”:

The final version is 84 pages long – definitely a book you have to sit down and spend some time with.

If you’re intrigued, get your paperback copy here for only $29.95.

Or, if eBooks tickle your fancy, it’s also available as a PDF for only $2.99!

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Shine, ladies.

After four days back in the US, North Carolina’s beautiful weather is winning me over.  For those of you who may have noticed that I’ve fallen off the face of the earth, I am taking a few days to reconfigure my self-image.  Fitting a new self into an old life is never comfortable – but I’m adjusting.

During the 30-hour flight back from Cape Town, I listened to hip-hop for hours.  Hip-hop has been my go-to language and salve for years now.  And yet that language is phallocentric, and often degrading toward women.  Women comprise 50% of hip-hop listeners!  In the past 15 years or so, mainstream rap has shifted away from protest toward pure capitalism.  In this atmosphere, how can female rappers shine?

Shad vocalizes what, I think, many of us feel.  Many of hip-hops strongest female voices (Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Salt-n-Pepa) have faded out of the scene, leaving a vacuum.  M.I.A. is doing her best to hold it down, as are Yo-Landi and Jean Grae,

but the lack of poignant female perspective is a frustrating oversight in mainstream hip-hop.  (And no – for me, Nicki Minaj does not count.  But, admittedly, Lil Mama rocks my socks.)

I have every faith powerhouse female voices are coming back to rap music, hopefully including Caucasian and lesbian women, as well as gay men.  Rap is a music of passion and protest; its core tenets are not limited to a single perspective.

And please.  All you up-and-coming lady rappers out there… show me you have passion for more than sex, money, and your own bravado.

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Roll away your stone, I’ll roll away mine

Only five more days here in Cape Town.  A quiet day – house to myself.  Throwing myself into final touches on the “Artist Studio” Cape Town sketchbook before I turn my attention to finalizing the “Khayelitsha” sketchbook.

Combining text, collage, and pen/colored pencil drawings has proven to be endlessly fascinating and engaging.  So addictive, in fact, that I’ve begun planning a year-long trip around the globe in 2013 to work on a series of sketchbooks that will be released monthly like a comic book.  More to come on that one.

I’m reading ravenously again.  Just ran across this quotation by Adrian Piper that beautifully summarizes art’s potential to change our world:

One reason for making and exhibiting a work is to induce a reaction or change in the viewer.  The stronger the work, the stronger its impact and the more total (physiological, psychological, intellectual, etc) the reaction of the viewer.  The strength of such a work is a function of the viewer’s response to it.  The work is a catalytic agent, in that it promotes a change in another entity (the viewer) without undergoing any permanent change itself.

- “Art as Catalysis,” Adrian Piper

The more vulnerable and unveiled we are in the artwork, the more powerful it becomes.

Just have to learn how to roll away the stone in front of our self-defenses.

(Don’t judge my love.)

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Pensive little lion woman

My recent days have consisted of sun, iPod, sketchbooks, yoga, and healthy food.  Elated.

Most of the housemates leave tomorrow for AfrikaBurn, so I will be enjoying even more concentrated time in the studio.  The next six days will be a gift – time to process and evaluate my time here, to discover which new personality traits are true changes and which are merely environmental.  I also need to analyze and absorb what this trip has meant to me on my life path.

As I near the end of this educational and creatively inspiring journey, I could meditate on no more eloquent and powerful words than those of South African’s icon:

The truth is that we are not yet free; we have merely achieved the right not to be oppressed.  We have not taken the final step of our journey, but the first step on a longer and even more difficult road.  For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others…

I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come.  But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended.

- “Long Walk to Freedom”, Nelson Mandela

This trip has been as much an influx of new musical influences as it has been of visual ones.  This may prove how uncool/behind the times I am, but I just hopped on the Mumford & Sons train.

Banjo.  Yes.

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A brand new bag

The key to a creative life is sustained, consistent, positive action.

- Julia Cameron

During these relaxing days following my exhibition, I have fallen into a creative groove.  Working daily in my sketchbook, going for long walks to the local museums, cooking delicious dinners, reading in the sun.

I love being at my desk, moving pen across the paper, reacting to playful instincts.

“Slowly and gently” is my mantra.  No longer “crazed and frenetic”.  Coaxing, not forcing; existing, not hacking.  Small steps allow the projects to change and reform organically.

Sometimes it feels like I’ve become an entirely new artist here.

The sketchbooks’ narrative and visual language are coming together quickly.  A few of the pages are shared above.  When the books are completed, there will be total of over 200 drawings.

You need to claim the events of your life to make yourself yours.  When you truly possess all you have been and done, which may take some time, you are fierce with reality.

-Flonda Scott Maxwell

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A gentle sigh of relief

Thanks again to all the folks who came out to the exhibition yesterday in spite of the rain!  My website www.catherinejhoward.com is fully updated with photos of my newest series, “I know ‘em so well I tell ‘em with my eyes closed”, and the pop-up exhibition for “Commune/Communicate/Comment”!

Folks checking out the mural created for the "Commune/Communicate/Comment" pop-up exhibition. The amazing mural portrait at the top of the house was done last year by Indigo!

Installation shot of "I know 'em so well I tell ' em with my eyes closed"

This afternoon, I’ll be finalizing the last of the postcards for all my amazing Kickstarter backers.  It’s hard to believe I’ve already been in South Africa for 6 weeks.  My time is already 2/3 over!  For the next three weeks, I’ll be hunkered down at my desk with my sketchbooks, working hard to actualize an idea that has been marinating for the past month.  Stay tuned!

And because I always love to leave you with a little bit of music to carry you through the day, here is a video of what the inside of my brain looks like most of the time:

Yes – I apparently live in a world where everyone speaks Italian.  The only things that are missing in this video are my best friends, R. Kelly and Notorious B.I.G., and my new yellow Wonder Woman tshirt.

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