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Cathryn Zeleny has been involved in art and design all her life. She learned sewing and needlearts as a child, and drawing, painting, and sculpture as a young adult. She completed a BA in art studio and an MA in psychology, and then worked in art galleries and taught classes for many years while painting and exhibiting part-time.
In 1999, she started art quilting, which she considers a natural blend of her skills and interests.
Cathryn’s current work is characterized by three-dimensional abstract forms which undulate and overlap in space. The images are metaphysical in nature, and of universal appeal.
Her quilts have been shown internationally at quilt events, as well as at art galleries and online. Her work is in several private collections, and has been published in Quilters Newsletter Magazine and in three American Quilters Society books. She has been an Artist-in-Residence at Empty Spools Seminars at Asilomar, and is the First Place winner of the National Quilting Museum's 2009 competition New Quilts From An Old Favorite. She continues to show her recent paintings in gallery and art society exhibitions.
Cathryn, primarily a studio artist, also teaches composition and design, and lectures on inspiration and concept.
She lives near the Olympic Mountains in Washington state with her partner, pianist John Schwennesen.
(CV on request)
The Artist's Statement
I started using fabric as a creative medium in 1999 more by accident than design. I was suffering from both creative block in my painting and from illness, and needed an artistic avenue that was playful and without professional purpose.
The majority of the quilts I made between then and 2004 were explorations of the different compositions and visual options that are possible within the technical framework of the 'traditional' quilt.
I experimented with piecing, applique, and quilting stitches as 'canvases' for the portrayal of both pictorial imagery and conceptual or non-representational design.
In 2002, first as acrylic or pastel paintings and later as quilts, I started my current primary body of work. The series is about the essential universality of three-dimensional forms which undulate and/or overlap in space. The images are cropped from different sources: sand dunes, waves, rotted wood, snowdrifts, flowers, adobes, the figure, and from my own imagination. I find these forms to be mysterious and intriguing, and spiritual in nature. They speak to me.
The pastels and paintings in this series are experimental in nature as the mediums naturally allow for major changes as the image develops. I explore the compositional principles of balance, the division of space, and visual movement.
The aesthetic of the forms becomes more important than their original source.
The quilts are the result of a pre-planned design process using my paintings and sketches as a base, and have their technical origins in my earlier work. I choose the color or value gradations that are necessary to create my visual imagery, and I superimpose them on traditional quilt block patterns, pieced geometrics, or fused organic shapes.