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I am an artist: Catherine Gellings

1. Why are you an artist?

I have found that it is God’s will for me. Circumstances have pointed me towards art production from an early point in my life. These include parents, school events, friends and various types of curriculum. Through that engagement I have found that the arts have been a major stabilizing force for me in my life. Over the years they have become intrinsic, although they have also most likely been there from the beginning. At this point I cannot imagine my life without it. This taken into consideration, as well as the absolute truth that can be discovered through well produced art,(I will explain that more below) I am of a certain mindset now that this is a purpose of my life.

Is there a concept behind your work? If so, please tell us about it.

Truth. I really believe that if you can access the real “art” of a discipline you encounter universal Truth. That might be a funny perspective being as we are already speaking about the “arts” in general and I suppose one would not think to look for the real “art” in the “arts” in conversation, however that is how I can think to say it. I have seen in the course of my short life that if you access that “Truth” in your work, the work is capable of identifying with all ages, races and cultural perspectives. It can quite literally be a halt in your day. We resonate with it by way of a very significant knowledge inside of us that that Truth is in existence in our universe. We know it, we have seen and experienced it; sometimes we deny and ignore it, but when we see it we know it.


But in the process of a drawing or a paintings “working” it is something you must stop and listen for. Many of us just don’t listen. Besides that many of us seek to control in the midst of a lot around us that we can’t control. I have seen that this applies deeply to the creative process. Thus I have also seen that there is a lot of “bad” art out there. Or maybe we can say that it isn’t heard in its forming process or that it has been controlled?


So perhaps the results of concepts that appear in my work are the result of active listening for the Truth that is in and through it, as well as a willingness to not control and contort a work to what I think is the best desired end.


The part I love the most about this is how strongly it seems that the creative process influences our daily life styles!



3. Why do you use the medium that you use?

I use a variety of mediums and that is simply because only one can be a little boring. Also, there is too much to learn! I wonder, “Each medium is of significant value and is highly useful. Not to mention very exciting! Why limit myself to just one perspective?”


I highly favor 2-dimensional applications with my mediums, however I have an interesting perspective on painting.

I had actually never liked painting, however during one of my college semesters it was necessary for me to take a class. I began in the traditional way and plugged along, struggled around and didn’t enjoy it a whole lot. But for an assignment a few weeks into the class it became necessary to use palette knifes to apply our mediums. With that tool found painting. Ironically in this method, while paint is slathered and mixed, the process of application feels more sculptural than painted. I would encourage anyone to give that a try. It is very fun. J


4. Who are your favorite artists?

Catherine Waskow. I was very inspired by her work of the figure, but not very inspired by her personality. On another hand, I was very impressed with Andy Warhol’s thought processes about life. Not exactly his opinions, but how he rationalized and processed through his days in a story type fashion. (As is evident in his books.) He also did what he did very well. Elizabeth Vigee LeBrun. She knew what she was doing when she handled people. As a woman in her time, it was fairly difficult to do what she did, but she did it. She painted well and I was also impressed that she had a mullet. The linear qualities and color application of Robert Kushner’s work is inspirational to me.

5. Who inspires you?

People who are kind and truthful. There don’t seem to be many of them in the world and that is unfortunate. I find people with kindness and a willingness to listen, inspirational perhaps because of the safety they can produce. However what I know of their ideas, the best intentions are always within and I believe these correspond well to Truth.


6. What role does humor play in your work?


While producing the work I do, my goal is usually not to bring humor to its forefront, however my goal is rather to find that truth of the design. When that can be found I can certainly say there is quite a bit of celebration in my heart! That can bring about quite a bit of laughter and joy; I am certainly happy when that Truth is found!


So while there can be elements of humor in my work, I would have to say that it is not at the forefront, and not the major goal. However I have found at times that there is certainly a humor associated with compilations of shapes that are bulbous and full of energy. Again let me say, not “large” or “fat”, but bulbous, or circular and bouncy in their essence. There is a pleasantness about that which can bring humor. I can liken that nature to something like kittens bouncing around. It depends upon the work; I must be attentive as to whether or not I should bring that into its composition.




7. What is the role of the artist in our society? What is the role of artists in Oregon?


The role of the artist in our society is absolutely huge! Artists move our Country and State; so also I believe they are able to motivate and inspire, but more so they are able to create our reality as well as tear it apart. It is surely evident in the swing of Christmas time as we see the desires of our children – so motivated as they are through advertising and it’s psychology. Objects can become made to be so desirable via the elements of design. Strategically placed shapes and colors can do quite a bit to motivate, as I am sure many schools and office spaces are becoming aware of these days. In my own experience of figure drawing, I found personal self worth.

Knowing there is a tremendous power in the hand of an artist to move – it must be said that we must, we must, be a moralizing force. While Artists are a small and sometimes unheard and even judged group, I believe I have seen abilities within our grasp to uplift and build others through our art, far more than we might have ever been able to say with our words.

For example, in my personal experience of photographing nude figures, I have seen vulnerabilities brought out, but also I have seen individuals strengthened. In other venues, I have seen individuals made to be felt worthy of themselves and beautiful through the process of nude modeling – a type of employment that many might liken to a step above prostitution – however I have seen them built up because those models were handled appropriately by individuals who respected them far more than previous sexual partners had.

Because of this testimony in my life, I have had chance to realize the fragility of our inner workings. However through the utilization and experience of Art – a means of finding beauty in what might appear to be our mundane existence – I have seen a glimpse of the amazing beauty, strength and potential of our humanity, and it has left me hungry for more. It is in this state that I cannot deny that I feel obligation to use this wonder for good.

I feel though that I cannot express with clarity the “why we must do this” to you other than by saying that it is because I truly believe this wonder, Art, as it might be Truth, is from my God and Creator. In my belief that He himself has the best of intentions prepared for us, to build us up in love, boundaries, discernment, knowledge, justice, righteousness (that is being fiercely determined to set things right! How many people do you know like that?) wisdom and as many good things as we can own – and then wishes us to do the same for our fellows. I believe with Him it is not an impossibility, and to complete my happy circle of thought, I believe this because of my experience in the Arts.


So then I say all of this to express our role as artists? I believe we should be present and with others, and I believe we artists should be visible. I believe we should be sharing our opinions in love and graciousness, and I believe we should be influencing in ways that benefit others. I hope that I have expressed this through all the other comments in this interview. If not please write to me! Let me know what you think!



8. Where do you see yourself as an artist in 5 years?

I hope to proceed onto graduate school and eventually a professorship. I hope to be sharing how wonderful Art is with the people around me!


9. What are your ultimate goals as an artist?


As an artist, to be successful in any way, shape, and form I must continue to listen. I also must continue to be faithful to Truth. In my pursuit of art, I must continue to strive to understand humanity and it’s essence; but also in the opposite, I will gain perspective within the Truth perceived in the work. As with any gift, I believe it is my responsibility to use that perspective in my life, actions and words, to edify my community. Lastly I want to share it in a loud voice with everybody! Get the art out into the world!


These are my goals as an artist.


10. What does art mean to you?


“Art” to me is my purpose and my passion. It is truly a gift to me from God, and I cannot deny that in any way. The Truth is too evident. I am so close to Him in the process of making anything. For me “Art” is truly a devotional state. So then this is why I know I must use it to edify and build up the people around me. God is holding me accountable. He is building me up with it, how could I use that then to tear other people down?

But I do not forget how loving and merciful God is and knowing I am not in a state of fear for being held accountable. His love and mercy is evident to me by way of the tremendous joy and happiness I find in it.