http://www.catherinegass.com

Bio

Adjunct Assistant Professor, Photography (2000). BFA, 1995, Minneapolis College of Art and Design; MFA, 1997, School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Concurrent Positions: Photographer, The Newberry Library. Publications: A Field Guide to the North American Family; Introduction to Manuscript Studies; Notre Dame Review #23. Exhibitions: Energy BBDO, Wrigley Building, Artemesia Gallery, Chicago; Left Bank, St. Louis; Kaufman Arcade, Organization of Independent Artists, NY; Open Book, Minneapolis; Noyes Cultural Center, Evanston; Columbia Center for Book and Paper Arts. Awards: 2003 CAAP Grant; 2002 Illinois Arts Council Assistance Grant. Visiting Artist Lecture: Center for Humanities, University of Missouri, St. Louis.


Personal Statement

I believe that the classroom should be a charged environment; students should not learn idly. I want students to take risks in my classes. One unique aspect about the art classroom is that students expose themselves to the scrutiny of their peers. Allowing students to witness the vulnerability between artistic and intellectual intimacy is crucial to a positive learning environment. This intimacy allows them to see the process - not just the product. If students see that I am willing to put myself on the line with them - take risks - then they will be more willing to do so with their own work.
I believe that all students should start out with a solid grasp of the medium of photography. I provide students with a strong foundation of technical information so they feel confident in their ability to manipulate the medium to better express their ideas.

Photography in all its forms (video, film, and advertisement) molds and reflects our social ideology. In our consumer culture, the photograph has become a commodity. Instead of being identified with what we produce, we are made to identify ourselves with what we consume. It is important that the education of the artist today acknowledges this concept and transforms it. Context is important for a student?s understanding on how others interpret their ideology.

A preconceived image is always perfect; the struggle begins when students convert their ideas into language and form. I believe the ability to articulate one?s ideas are vital to producing an educated artist. Therefore, I devote extensive time developing the student?s visual and verbal thinking skills. It has been my experience that theory and its language intimidate most art students. I do not encourage this perception in my classes. Instead I introduce my students to key ideas of semiotics, post structuralism and postmodern theory. I have found that by using hands-on learning exercises to illustrate many of these ideas students become less intimidated by vocabulary and are better able to apply theoretical concepts to their own images.
It is important to enhance a student?s objectivity by presenting them with multiple perspectives and multiple mediums. The assignments I give are designed to question student?s assumptions about photography and art. My goal is help each student find their own unique vision so that they can play, examine, and explore their ideas openly. During critiques I strongly encourage students to participate in an open exchange where their differences are expected and accepted.

The artist?s concerns are not always the same as the viewers. I believe a student?s education is a process of developing learning skills that will continue beyond the classroom. One of the most important lessons for any student to learn is that the mistakes made along the way are essential to their growth. Those who continue to make art, as David Bayes says in Art and Fear, have learned how to continue, have learned how not to give up. Persevere.


Current Interests

Images are controlled by our ability to understand the language we use to describe them. Retrieval tools. Rhetorical tools. I have to go in and get what I want with a word or two. I am interested in the capacity of objects to serve as traces of authentic experience. The combining and unbinding of text and image has put me in a place where I have to separate what is meant from what is said, and what is said from what is implied and what is implied from what is revealed.

This move from the center of language to the edge is a gradual one. I want to take a common use of language and manipulate it. Reinvent the word family. Reinvent chair and sex. Increase the difficulties of interpretation. Push peoples understanding of what is mundane to the levels of abnormal. Read between the lines.

 

Disclaimer: All work represents the views of the INDIVIDUAL ARTISTS & AUTHORS who created them, and are not those of the school or museum of the Art Institute.