The Creature Creations of Cathy Craig
by Violette Skye
In late 2007, I was planning a move from Ohio. When I first realized I was going to move to Oregon, the first thing I thought was that I should open my own gallery in Portland. So I began making a shopping list of emerging artists from the Cincinnati metropolitan area that I would like to show in my future gallery. Sitting at the top of my list was Cathy Craig.
At that time, she and I discussed in-depth the kind of show I would like to do. Little did I know back then that I would not end up in Portland, but in the state's capital, where I would test the uncharted waters of emerging arts in an “art conservative” city. Close to two years later, I messaged Cathy on Facebook and asked her if she would be interested in doing a solo show at the Coffee House Cafe in Salem. I was putting together an event with the Emerge Oregon Art Series to include four bands and an art installation.
She said yes.
Cathy's exhibit was filled with wearable and stuffed textile fairy tale creatures, called Creature Creations. Cathy’s interests haven’t always been focused on textile art. She remembers a childhood in which drawing, making things and being creative was always a part of her life. The burgeoning artist would use up all of the crayons in the house and, often times, would find herself stealing her mother's scissors. At the age of 14, she transitioned to painting. As an adult, her work in textiles started when she created a quilt but failed to finish it, because she really just wanted to make a costume.
When it comes to creating a work, she is not a planner and doesn't sketch anything out. She just sets aside a designated start time and goes to it. Her feeling is that art created spontaneously might not work within the confines of long-term planning.
As she told me, “I'm not gonna lie. I do the easiest thing I can think of. I'm a lazy artist, really."
I recently asked Cathy to summarize her Creature Creation experience:
“I made the Big Blue Buffalo in two parts. Part one was five years ago, when I originally wanted to make a big gorilla suit. Blue fabric was on sale at the fabric store, so I went with it. I used a jumpsuit as a template. My proudest moment was when I successfully attached the zipper. The head was just a cut out area for my face with horns, not the crazy hairy thing it is now. I wore the outfit for the first time for Cincinnati's Final Friday Gallery Walk in October 2007, and that very instance was when I met up with the friend that suggested a show in Oregon. I stayed in touch with [you] and in January 2010 was asked to send some crazy fuzzy art to Oregon.
Part two, I reconfigured the monster head into the Big Blue Buffalo based on my acquired taste for native species of Kentucky and visits to Big Bone Lick State Park (best name ever). I then combined the art invitation with a long-time dream of driving to the West Coast. I invited my friends, Kris and Sara, for the company and to share the experience. Everything we did was amazing, but Yellowstone was my favorite part of the trip. Dressing up in fuzzy outfits and taking photos at 7 a.m. at Old Faithful and the looks on faces around us will remain with me for some time. I wore the blue fuzzy outfit to the art show at Emerge and thoroughly enjoyed Western hospitality. The whole experience was personally and artistically inspirational.”