in partnership
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(Image courtesy of Cathy McClure).

Artist of the Week: Cathy McClure

Seattle might be notorious for niche coffee shops and scenic waterways, but locals know it's also home to an array of people who love to create. This city is chock-full of artists who we love to feature weekly on Seattle Refined! If you have a local artist in mind that you would like to see featured, let us know at And if you're wondering just what constitutes art, that's the beauty of it; it's up to you!

Seattle Refined: How long have you been creating? Do you work with other mediums?
I’ve been creating since I learned that it was possible to transform the outline of my hand into a turkey. Being an artist was and is my beginning and end game. Undergrad at Texas Tech and grad school at UW gave me the discipline I desperately needed. Those experiences made me realize that being an artist is a job, a dedication and a full-time commitment. My strong background in metal-smithing and design began at Texas Tech. Once I landed at UW, I started to branch out and experiment with other disciplines. UW nurtured this approach. My work is more about the areas between disciplines, it’s about disciplines that don’t even exist! Murray Moss and his partner Franklin Getchell have represented my work since 2009. Moss calls what me and others like me do - anti-disciplinary. It’s such a good word! I create zoetropes and produce videos, drawings and sculptures – some where I document, cut and destroy discarded battery-operated stuffed animals with scissors, and reinvent them. Who does that?

Can you tell us about your artistic process and how the different stages work into it?
Most of my work is kinetic in nature. My zoetropes involve strobes, motors and sound. These installations are best experienced in person, always in a dark room with strobes as the only light source. With these works, I strive for the theatrical, for visual magic and the suspension of disbelief. These pieces are about our collective imaged techno future, the carnivalesque and the future that we now inhabit.

With my Bots, I disassemble discarded toys I find in thrift stores and then re-cast their limbs and armatures in bronze and sterling silver. Sometimes, I leave them exactly as they are when I “unstuff” them or cover them in gold leaf. On other occasions, I go about this bizarre Frankensteinian re-assembly of the new metal 'parts' which involves re-fitting, manipulating and re-installing original circuit boards, batteries, gears, and voice boxes – or not. Lately, I’ve been hardwiring various “Bots” together and inviting viewers to activate the work. This past summer I had a residency at Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, WA. I’m looking forward to experimenting with the work that began there, (which is all still in boxes) - glass is the new metal!?

Tell us about where your inspiration for your art come from?
My inspiration stems from the toy box to mass media to tornadoes to shopping to our globally gluttonous consumer society to landfills..and other things I don’t even realize.

Do you have a specific “beat” you like best – nature, food, profiles etc?
Not especially. My husband is an amazing musician, he’s the leader of The Dusty 45s. BUT, I can’t listen to him in the studio because, you know, it makes me think of him and not the work! Most of the time, when I’m in my studio, I crave repetition so I can zone out and focus. NPR, KEXP.. or some super mundane commercial radio station work as good background noise. Repetition is success.

Do you have one piece of art that means more to you, or is extremely special to you?
Throughout my career I’ve gone through stages where I reinvent myself – at least to the point where I consider what I’ve made in the past, how I make what I make and what I should make next. I don’t think I’m alone it that, I think all artists go through starts and stops, reinvention and discovery. Anyways..the first pieces that represent that shift from one body of work to the next are all kind of special to me. Arshile was my first sterling silver teapot. Carnival of Life, my first zoetrope and finally Trumpet, my first metal robotic Bot. Those pieces all represent my desire to shake up it up. My curiosity has always led to new growth.

What experiences in your life have affected your art the most?
Supportive mentors, no doubt about it. Several teachers during undergrad and grad school were super inspiring to me. Robly Glover, Akio Takimori, Shawn Brixey, Bill Bagley, Roger Horner - I’m grateful to those instructors for helping me to understand that there are no boundaries to art-making. One needn’t pick one discipline. Once school is over, there’s a distinct shift. Things get super serious very quickly! As a professional artist, the recognition I’ve received from gallerists – Chris Bruce, Asher Edelman, Murray Moss, Franklin Getchell, from institutions – the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, SAM, BAM, the Milton Hershey Museum, from collectors, from my peers and from other artist support systems have all had a huge effect on my career. Just like with any other job, the support of community is key.

If we want to see more of your work where should we go to find?
There are a few things in the works that I can’t really talk about but I can share that I’m represented by Edelman Arts and Moss Bureau in New York and hope to show with them both soon. The best way to get an introduction to what I do now is to check it out online.

What is next for you? Anything you’re working on right now that you’re really excited about?
In 2017 I became a part of the team responsible for developing a context sensitive art program for the expansion of the convention center – the WSCC Addition. The building should be completed by 2021. My responsibilities include pinpointing potential artwork locations and then executing a plan to commission artworks for approved locations both within and around the Addition. My role also includes promoting ties to arts and culture in our area, consulting with the WSCC, the architects, developers, the Addition Art Advisors, the Board Art Committee and others working on the project to ensure that by working together, we create a holistic Addition arts program for all. I love this role. It has re-connected me to Seattle in a pretty powerful way. After spending the better part of the last 13 years back and forth to New York, it’s super fulfilling to be a part of something local. Something that provides opportunities for artists in our region, especially at a time when many artists are relocating based on the costs associated with living in our booming city. I’m also collaborating with LMN (the architects on the project) on an artwork that will be located within the mixing zone area of the Addition.

Lastly, how do you take your coffee? We ask everyone!
No foam latte with almond milk. Yum.