Voices of the Delta: Cathy Burns

Author: Arkansas Arts CenterFiled under: Delta 59, Exhibitions, Image, Museum, Quote, Voices of the Delta

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Cathy Burns, born in Holly Grove, Arkansas, lives in North Little Rock, Arkansas, When Our Walls Fall Down: Uncovered Sinz, 2016, iPhonography print, 8 x 10 inches

Cathy Burns, born in Holly Grove, Arkansas, lives in North Little Rock, Arkansas, Different Somehow: Stand on Your Own, 2016, iPhonography print of mixed media collage, 8 x 8 inches


On my Instagram account I reveal this about my persona in my profile – “one who loves to look…an artist soul, lover of line & surface, painter of sorts.” I have always been an artist. I have always been fascinated by the alchemy of image meeting paper, whether it be in a drawing, a painting, or a photograph. Being raised deep in the Arkansas Delta, this exhibit is significant to me. It began the year I was born: 1958. The landscape, the sensibility that informs my art is reflected in the name – in the concept, and in the aesthetic of this exhibit. I am mostly a mixed media artist but my art is ever evolving. The iPhone most recently has allowed me a more expedient method with which to explore my visual process. When Our Walls Fall Down: Uncovered SINZ was captured in Helena, a once-thriving Arkansas town. I rounded a corner by the Mississippi River to discover this building a friend wanted me to see. It had been a beautiful part of downtown at one time, a Wholesale or Warehouse business. It was in the process of being razed, it’s longstanding brick walls being torn down. Yet, within I saw spaces with vaults and rooms for storage. Shelves were still holding materials. I knew though the building had long been abandoned. The ghost sign on an inner wall SINZ pushed my creative mind as I shot the image and my imagination pieced the picture with metaphorical possibilities of a title for the piece. Letters and numbers have been a constant in my art vocabulary. Different Somehow: Stand On Your Own happened as I was working in my studio – my sanctum. While putting together a mixed media painting, I placed a cut-out, a paper-doll, on top of the work. This took me back to my childhood again. Living in the Delta, growing up in the middle of cotton and rice fields, sometimes it was easy to feel lost in the vast and often lonely landscape. I had paper-dolls for my imaginary friends. I felt a similar sense of play while fashioning this work. As I laid this paper cut-out against the finished painting, they paired perfectly, and the light coming in the window created a wonderful shadow just before I adhered the collage piece to the painting. The cut-out female figure in this piece juxtaposed against the painted background serves to represent my life as a woman artist in the south.

– Cathy Burns

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