PhotoNOLA: Cathy Cone: Rewinding Forward
This week we are sharing some of our discoveries from the PhotoNOLA Reviews, an annual celebration of photography in New Orleans.
“I make photographs as a way to listen to my heart’s song, and then I practice like hell to sing it.”- Cathy Cone
Cathy Cone is a photographer and painter based in East Topsham, Vermont. Her series Rewinding Forward is an ongoing life project, representing events and personal experiences in a continuum. There’s a whimsical quality to this work, reminiscent to the photographs in her former series Hand Painted Photographs. Yet Rewinding Forward infuses a sense of foreboding, creating visual poems that contemplate the mystery and intrigue of simply being alive. An interview with the artist follows.
In Rewinding Forward I explore relationships between childhood memories, myths, trauma and dreams. This ongoing body of work is dialectic between grief and anger, life and death, and hope and mourning. I’m interested in psychological states as a way of creating visual labyrinths between heaven and earth. I’m looking for the images to connect my inner story through some outward situation. I want the photographs to express a lifeline of continuum through a surrealist inquiry of juxtapositions. My hope is to re-imagine a magical theater where mystery is the subject.
Cathy Cone is a photographer and painter. Her surrealist approach to photography began in the late 1970’s with the introduction of the “Diana” camera. This led to investigation of experimental techniques towards a multidisciplinary approach to her poetic image making. Cathy received her training at Ohio University, Vermont Studio Center. She received her MFA at the Maine Media College. Some of her exhibitions include Weisman Art Museum, University of Alabama, DeCordova Museum, the Griffin Museum of Photography and the Vermont Center for Photography. Her works are in the collection of IBM, Hallmark Fine Art Collections, American Express, and the Beekman a Thompson Hotel, New York. Cathy with her husband, master printer Jon Cone, founded Cone Editions Press in 1980 in Port Chester, NY as a collaborative printmaking workshop. Cone Editions Press is now located in East Topsham, Vermont where Cathy is director of the Workshops and Studio.
Follow CathyCone on Instagram: @cathy_cone
Linda Alterwitz: Can you expand upon your creative process?
Cathy Cone: I’m drawn to the abstraction of black and white photography and the breath of tones it offers. The shades of grey have an expressive range that serve like a tuning fork for the eyes. I use the Piezography black and white printing process. It is important to my work. The inks produce a dreamlike quality. It’s a felt way to access childhood memories of graphically emotional qualities that reveal through metaphor through imaginative patterning.
LA: Rewinding Forward echoes a connection to the extraordinary time experienced during the COVID-19 Pandemic. How did this time effect you and your creative practice?
CC: The pandemic has had a profound effect on humanity. Last year my mother passed and I was unable to travel to be with her. I experienced her death via FaceTime. I’m deeply grateful for the technology that allowed me to do this. We learn everything by its opposite and the only thing that doesn’t have an opposite is the divine. My hope is that my work reflects this inquiry.
LA: Can you expand upon the underlying themes of life and death within this series?
CC: We learn through our experiences of life and death and beyond that is the eternal mystery. Duality teaches this through creative balanced interactions. In this way opposites are also complementary like the wings of a bird. I referring to the struggle. Brancusi said, It’s not a bird but the meaning of flight.” I believe he was talking about the essence of things. What we express behind the external forms, what gets expressed through the image. I’ve studied mysticism throughout my life. I’m referring to an intuitive way of working and the idea of revealed knowledge towards wholeness.
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