We had the good fortune of connecting with Caitlin McCormack and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Caitlin, what’s something about your industry that outsiders are probably unaware of?
Aside from the occasional gig teaching undergrad art students, I primarily make a living selling and exhibiting fine art. Oftentimes, when I describe what I do in conversations with people who are not involved in the arts, I’m faced with a lot of assumptions regarding how loosely structure and scheduling play a part in my day-to-day life. The truth is that I need to impose a great deal of structure on basically all aspects of my existence, in order to stay afloat. I don’t know too many artists who wake up at 1pm, drink wine on a picnic blanket in a park for hours, put one brush stroke on a canvas around 12:45 am, and call it a day, and yet that seems to be the general consensus in terms of how outsiders view an artist’s daily activities. Not only does this career requires tremendous dedication, time management, and a great deal of control, but you have to impose it all on yourself.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m a fiber sculptor, and I’ve been working with crocheted cotton string dredged in glue for about ten years. I primarily use this medium to construct very delicate, lace-like osteological specimens, but in recent years have been gravitating towards subject matter ranging from rhizospheric debris to disintegrating, nostalgic objects. My work is dependent on materials that are both very precious, such as cotton string from my grandmother dating back to the Great Depression, to very accessible media sourced from craft stores. I enjoy the many conversations about gender, class, and memory that arise from the combination of domestic, familiar handiwork and gruesome, sort of weird imagery that is present in my work. Carving a place for yourself in the art world is really difficult, and I struggle with depression and a seemingly infinite slew of insecurities, so I never feel as though I’ve arrived at a desirable place, career-wise. I am so grateful for the opportunities I’ve had though, and especially for the people I’ve met along the way. It’s difficult to overcome the hurdles that mental illness throws at you, especially when your career and ego are so convolutedly intertwined, but I’ve found that just focusing on technical and conceptual challenges can be a really helpful thing to keep in mind. Allowing yourself to have a sense of humor, and to make a departure from seriousness when you feel the urge to, even if you feel as though you shouldn’t in fear of seeming unprofessional, is so, so beyond important.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
I live in Philadelphia, but I LOVE Los Angeles. The Museum of Jurassic Technology happens to be my favorite place in the entire world, and it’s right there in Culver City. I don’t think any description I can provide of this amazing place could possibly do it any justice – you just have to see it for yourself. I also love Clifton’s Republic, downtown. It’s sort of hard to believe that place even exists – it feels like a strange dream, where you’re trapped in the grooves of a skipping record. I love it. People always tell me that I’m crazy for doing this, but I’m from the east coast and I’m used to walking everywhere, so I walk a lot in LA. Those sunsets are just something else.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would love to give a shoutout to Marguerita Hagan, a tremendous ceramic artist in Philadelphia, who has a huge heart and extends her generosity throughout a really far-reaching network of people.
Facebook: Caitlin T. McCormack
Other: Galleries where my work is available: https://www.paradigmarts.org/collections/caitlin-mccormack https://www.hashimotocontemporary.com/exhibitions/54/works/ https://mortalmachinenola.com/collections/caitlin-mccormack-mortal-machine-gallery-new-orleans
Photos by Caitlin McCormack and Jason Chen