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Cat Simmons/ 'Abstract Art'

Cat is a DC/Maryland (USA) based photographic artist and educator. Her photography interests include portraiture and a unique process of transformative work centered around themes of memory, identity, and deconstruction. Rooted in her interests concerning theory, philosophy, and poststructuralism, her work focuses on using the photograph as an object which can be altered as a method of rewriting the past. Cat earned her BA in Women’s Studies from the University of MD at College Park in 1997. She spent 18 years raising her six children before venturing out to earn a certificate in Photography from Montgomery Community College in Rockville, MD. From there she went on to earn her MFA in Photography from Savannah College of Art and Design in May of 2021.

''My family album is filled with memories of people, events and milestones, all collected to preserve the fleeting nature of past experiences. I’ve stored these photographs in safe places and have cherished them more and more as time has passed. I could never have predicted that one day, some of the same photographs that brought me so much happiness and nostalgia would become objects of pain and function as sobering reminders of the deceit that tainted my marriage. Boxes of pictures that once brought me joy became sources of immeasurable grief and anger. As I looked through my albums and connected certain images with new information, I felt compelled to discard them. Yet, rather than throwing them out, I chose to transform them into objects of healing, by way of rewriting of my past through their physical deconstruction and revisualization.

In this project, I remake old photographs, rendering them as new adaptations of their originals. Old images grow new wings as their auras transcend from past into present works of abstract art and receive new attributes through the restructuring of their raw materials. By ruining the print and, by way of metaphor, its associated memory through various methods of destruction such as the dripping of pigment inks, the pulling of emulsion, and the tearing of the fibrous paper, I alter the representation of my past to one which is far from its original state. Tangibly destroying the prints and sculpting those materials into new works of art empowers me to take charge of my own story. I am no longer a slave to the sadness of past experience, but rather find my story beautifully remade through this transformative process. I have effectively unanchored my painful memory and released it into new transcending realms of reinvention and remembering.''

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