My work has influences as varied as illuminated manuscripts, Indian and Islamic miniatures, textiles and visionary art. I’m especially drawn to the beautiful patterning used in many of these traditions. In my latest body of work, I continue to work with patterns inspired by quilts, a wide variety of textiles, and other “non-art” patterns. The process I have developed when working on these paintings has become more important to me over the years. I paint primarily at night, after the constant juggling and stresses of the day job, parenting, and running a household are over. The time in the studio is my refuge at the end of a hectic day and I paint every night, with few exceptions.
I used to think that I was attracted to exotic patterns that existed outside of my personal experience, perhaps as an escape mechanism. But I have come to believe that the patterns that I use in my work are more universal than I originally realized, and can be seen to exist within my own culture and experience. When I look at patterns from many different cultures, locations and time periods, I frequently notice the repetition of forms and shapes. There seems to be something deep within our human nature that compels us to ornament using the repetition of shape and color. My process of painting with gouache on paper is slow and can be tedious, but it is also deeply comforting and meditative. Working with only my hands and my materials, I associate the work with traditions that existed long before my time. While there is a long history of using repetitive shapes and patterns in modern art, I feel more connected to the tradition as seen in outsider or visionary artworks. As I work, I play games with the patterns to keep myself interested during the long time period it takes to complete a painting. I may start with a drawing of an “allover” pattern, but then I use color choices to disrupt the original pattern and create new patterns. Sometimes the patterns are “randomized” to upset the balance; sometimes elements are added on top of the original pattern to breach the boundaries.
After earning a BFA in Painting from The Cooper Union in New York, Catherine Colangelo returned to Houston to pursue her art practice. She was the recipient of 2011 and 2007 Individual Artist Grant Fellowships from the Houston Arts Alliance, and has been a Hunting Prize finalist in 2014 and 2010. Catherine’s work has been featured in many group exhibits and in the recent solo exhibitions Ocular Rhythms at McMurtrey Gallery (Houston), Double Wedding Ring at DARKE Gallery (Houston), Sea Change at Conduit Gallery (Dallas), and Fleet for Abby at Art League Houston.
Catherine’s work was selected by Bill Arning, the director of the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, from over 1000 entrants to be included in New American Paintings, No. 102, West Issue. Her work is also included in corporate collections including: Four Seasons Hotel (Houston), Rosewood Abu Dhabi Hotel, (Abu Dhabi, UAE), Fidelity Investments (Boston), and Sidley Austin LLP (Houston).