Catherine Kernan

Current Exhibits

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Past Exhibits


The premise that human relationships with the earth are reciprocal and move in cycles of repetition and variation underlies all my work. Deterioration and renewal are genetically ingrained in human perception, and our behavior elicits responses from the earth, something critical to acknowledge as environmental systems are under increasing threat of mutation, and collapse.

In Time and Again, I ask the viewer to re-assemble fragments of information by summoning memories of moving through a dynamic landscape. Overlays and repetitions of images signal the compression of time into simultaneous space, past, current, and anticipated.

Working at the interface between printmaking and painting, I collaborate with the unexpected, surprise and chance, thus ceding a measure of control but always responding to results. Each print is unique, but has elements from previous iterations. By layering different viscosities of inks, unpredictable, subtly poetic and dramatic graphic results emerge. Like imperfect memory, the layers collide, the shadows elide, color and light unify the shifting boundaries and shapes.

The search has become more relevant than the destination so I never print an image the same way twice, uniting concept and process in the repetitions, variations, and accumulations that are part of improvisatory printmaking.

Printmaking offers a paradigm for our times, attuned to our contemporary culture, embodying concepts of information transfer, con- and de-construction, replication and evolution, re-mixing and appropriations. Monoprints incorporate history, accept the fragmentary, the collisions and discontinuities deeply ingrained in the attitude of assemblage and collage pioneered in the twentieth century but still influential today.

Often now I can look at my artwork and recognize it as true to my experience of space and time, movement and memory. The process is a profound “be here now” experience.

Catherine Kernan was born in Cooperstown, New York and grew up in many parts of the world including Iran, Spain, and Korea. She attended Wellesley College, received a BFA degree from Cooper Union in New York City, and an MFA from the University of Wisconsin/Madison. Her primary studio is in Somerville, Massachusetts, where she is a founding partner of Mixit Print Studio, an open access professional studio.

In addition to teaching many workshops, she has taught at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, and several other institutions. From 2010 until 2017 Catherine was part-time Director of Maud Morgan Arts, an art center in Cambridge, MA offering art classes, workshops, and community programs.

Catherine Kernan’s work is regularly exhibited in private galleries across the country, national & international juried exhibitions, and invitational shows. Many private, and corporate collections own her work, as well as public collections, including: Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, Boston Public Library, Grunewald Collection, New York Public Library, Library of Congress, Detroit Institute of Art, Davison Art Center at Wesleyan University, and the Harvard Art Museums. She has been awarded residencies at the Scuola Internazionale de Grafika in Venice (2017), the Ballinglen Arts Foundation, Co. Mayo, Ireland (1992 thru 2016), the MacDowell Colony (1986) and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (1989).

The premise that human memory and the experience of spaces are dynamic, mutable, interactive, and recur in ever-evolving cycles of repetition and variation underlies most of my work. Oppositional scales of control and serendipity, order and chaos, perception and obstruction, description and suggestion guide my choices.

I have abandoned the depiction of a particular place on the earth, preferring to work in an abstract, improvisatory way, drawing on internalized experiences in a painterly process of controlled accident. Working at the interface between printmaking and painting, using large-scale woodblocks in unorthodox ways as a transfer tool, I build images by laying down ink, removing ink, and many viscosity rolls layer by layer, without predicting the outcome, but always keenly in tune with the medium. No longer a purist, interruption and interference with the “perfect transfer” are integral to the process.