Meet Cathleen

Artist Statement

Creating art allows me to indulge in intense intimacy while exploring my independent ideas and ideals. I’m fascinated with the chemistry of humankind and nature, with a particular affinity for metal (or metallic) and wood, approaching a subject with the aged patina intact. Being a self-taught artist, I can’t hide behind technique. I strive to be an honest and emotional storyteller, albeit naive.

The intimacy of my sculptural portraits derives from the fact that they are unapologetically flawed. The avalanche of texture does not attempt to hide inconsistencies, but rather a wabi-sabi tribute— seeing the beauty in the imperfect, impermanent and incomplete. The portrait is both model and message— a statement of belonging and intention made visible. Whether it is man, animal or mythological creature, the viewer is engaged in cross cultural dialogue. Art is where all paths converge, and improbable connection made possible.

Cathleen Klibanoff,

Steward of Stories

My Life as an Escape Artist

I’m an escape artist- not the Houdini variety- Chinese water torture cell escapes and other death defying feats, but rather my life as a creator allows me to journey between worlds and beyond.

I grew up with a father who is British and a scientist- conservative, always playing devil’s advocate, and a mother who’s Italian, who’s amazing, and kind, and gentle and warm and nurturing. I am both fire and ice. I am pragmatic with a vivid streak of fantasy. Art for me is my way of sewing the spine on the book, bridging the practical with the not so practical. I call that storytelling.

I love stories. I’ve always loved stories. Early in life, those stories were white lies or embellished versions of the truth- child’s play. As years passed, the stories were running commentary of my real life. I would always be reaching for the next story, for the next experience, so that I had something to share, to pass on, to digest and artistically express.

I never went to school to become an artist. It was just something I did. And for the majority of my life, I did it on a part-time basis. My parents were on a perpetual campaign for me to “get a real job”. As one of five children there was no wiggle room to be anything less than a mainstream employee with benefits. So I climbed the ladder until I was part of the executive cloud, but the air was thin and my soul was suffering.

I lived far and wide, the majority of my years being in New York City-lots of opportunity, lots of risk taking, lots of stories…. and my part-time-closet-inner artist was taking notes. But stories need a place to go. In facts that’s the definition of trauma- when something happens in your life and you don’t have a file folder for it. Your mind doesn’t know how to match it up with what you’ve known, what you’ve experienced. Now that I have committed to art as a full time practice, I’m able to reach back into the archives as a steward of stories and pull forward these memories and use them to inform the direction, the nuance, of whatever piece I’m working on.

My collection Ancients Unearthed is a retrospective of my life which has been so over the top, so theatrical, that it felt natural to do a collection with circus-like overtones. I love texture. I love color, I love movement. And why not tie that up with a big beautiful bow tie, and a sassy red nose.

My work is primarily figure based. I build my stories around people, not places. I love to travel. I’ve lived in a number of cities, but it’s the people that become the markers, the weigh stations, the sign posts of those times in my life, not the address.

Animals play a critical role in my art. I have two Great Pyrenees and a King Charles Cavalier, and two Devon Rex cats. I love animals because they are not conflicted. They are pure channels of spirit. Animals bypass the critical factor inviting the viewer to an intimate dinner with the artist.

When I say I’m an escape artist, I’m not trying to leave this life behind. I just want to design the largest envelope possible and fill it with people and animals …and soulful voice.