Our latest Artist You Need To Know is an artist who has been creating art in the public sphere with numerous site specific installations (over 50) for more than three decades.
Catherine Widgery’s public works are only part of her accomplished career, as her studio works also offer an extensive exploration of the artist’s ideas and practice. Her web site offers many images and much information about Widgery’s art, and we’ll be offering a sampling of that here, while strongly encouraging you to visit her own space, too.
Widgery’s career in public art (or art in the public realm, as she more appropriately describes it) is a process that has been successful as it is both responsive to, and respectful towards, the many individuals and groups that will encounter and interact with her work. Again, her site offers not just stagnant images, but many scenes of people enjoying and, in a sense, helping to define the works, as much as Widgery did. Several works we’re sharing here, such as Arbor Winds, also have video documentation at her site which give a more genuine impression of Widgery’s aesthetic.
From her site: “She has built her career around making public art because she is inspired by the richness of new places and meeting the people who will live with the artwork. Her works support multiple levels of meaning and experience. Anyone, child or art curator, will find something compelling to engage their senses, body and mind. She believes that giving her viewers something unexpected or intriguing helps awaken them to their surroundings. She engages them through mystery, ambiguity, changeability, animation and altered but recognizable imagery. The interpretation resides within the participant. Visitors are embraced by her artworks that often exist as shimmering light or movement in a shifting environment. Permeable, dematerialized, appearing and disappearing, her works in the public realm are never the same since it is nature’s energies and the viewer’s participation that determine the art in any given moment.”
There is a fluidity of light and form that echoes – or augments – the experience of the viewer, or more exactly, the visitor, to her public works. Several of the works shared above offer more inclusive videos of the pieces in situ, demonstrating this well (such as Halo or Leaves of Wind).
Widgery’s studio works (to use her distinction) possess the same sense of play, and visceral engagement, especially in her sense of materials, creating environments and experiences within the gallery space. Alongside her extensive resume in public spaces, she has exhibited widely in various galleries, across North America (her more detailed CV is far too long to list, but can be seen here).
Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Catherine Widgery graduated with a BFA from Yale University (1975). She lived and worked in London, New York and Rome, and eventually made her base in Montréal in 1979 before returning to the United States (Truro, Mass) in 1999. Various magazines, such as Sculpture, Landscape Architecture, Espace and World Sculpture News have featured her works on their covers. The Canada Council Art Bank, Concordia University Collection (Montréal), Quebec Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal and the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec all have her works in their collections (among many other public and private spaces). Widgery and her team have created more than 50 site-specific public art projects across the US and Canada, including Montreal, Salt Lake City, California and Arizona, and her site has a map that shows how her works can be enjoyed across the North American continent.
In 2015, Widgery was awarded the CODAawards Best Projects of 2015 for both Healthcare and Transportation, was selected for First Prize (for the artwork Tidal Song) in the TGK 2012 International Competition and the PAN/Americans for the Arts designated her installation Cloudbreak as outstanding artwork at their 2011 conference. She is a member of the Royal Canadian Academy for the Arts, and has been awarded numerous grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and Conseil des Arts et lettres du Québec.
This is just a taste of Widgery’s formidable and prolific practice, both for gallery spaces and in the public realm. We encourage you to explore her site, and also her page at the CCCA Database.