Freak of the Week ~ Cate Crowley

My name is Cate Crowley.

I am a photographer by trade but also a gallery owner and curator.  I graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst with a BFA in photography in May 2012. In December 2012 I started The Former Gallery, a space, an idea for exhibiting burgeoning local artists. I started the gallery because in the art world, as with any competitive industry, there is a vicious cycle of need for resume fluff to even be considered.  With no one willing to take the chance on young and rising stars, the foot in the door gallery was begun. The gallery was started @ 6 Harris St in West Stockbridge MA in the former All Fired Up, Berkshire Glass Gallery…hence the name “The Former Gallery”, an homage if you will, but also an insight for future Former Galleries, like NYC’s Alleged Gallery. The Former Gallery is open in the summers representing young and aspiring talent from the region.  You can check out our previously featured and upcoming artists here, or our Facebook page.  We are up and running Memorial Day - Columbus day with frequent events and meet and greets with the young talents.

I met Crispina last winter when she was in search of someone to help print the dolphin studio calendar. I started out with little to no knowledge of screen printing…and over the course of about 8 months became a print master…just kidding, but really, I went from nothing to handling the process on my own if need be, so any 2014 Dolphin Studio calendar in your home, I literally had a hand in. I will be eternally grateful for the opportunity to learn screen printing, a totally usable skill, but most importantly it introduced me to Crispina’s making world!

Cff:  If you had the power to make one change in the world what would it be?

If I could change one thing in the world it would be to raise the level of consciousness/respect for the planet and the amazing ecosystem that is able sustain such a diverse spectrum of life, it never ceases to amaze me how expansive and fruitful our planet is, was and hopefully will be.

Cff: What is your current passion?

My current passion is art making…I am a photographer by trade, but I tend to incorporate other materials and mediums, in particular object making and turning the images I make into objects. People always ask me when I tell them I am a photographer, “landscape or portrait?” and all I want to do is explain to them that photography offers so much more than those terms.

Cff:  How did you find that passion?

I have probably about three different answers for this question…I can indefinitely say the first time I was ever given a camera (on two separate occasions)

to play with.  First when I was 16 and my parents gave me an Olympus OM-1 and then again my first year at Maine College of Art, I was introduced to the 4x5, which is the camera I still use to this day. Or from the very first time I took and processed an image to the most recent time.  It never ceases to amaze me what can be made out using, abusing, understanding and manipulating the principles and processes of “analog”  image making…there’s science and experiment and always a bit of magic. I would also say that everything that is involved in photography, right down to how cool it is that “photography” literally translates to drawing with light. The mechanics of the tools, the sciences and materials of the processes and how once you know you that stuff can choose to forget or neglect all the rules you once learned in order to create that very first image.

Cff: Who/What has been most influential in your work?

As a BFA a student this was a question we were often asked, and I can conjure all sorts of artists names, people who make work similar to mine, people’s whose work I could look at all day.  But I am going to interpret influential this time as inspiring/encouraging. Peter Schellenberger, who introduced me to my photographic life, I’ll call it.  Tom Waits, a 4x5 camera and careful disregard for the process and mechanics of photography. He is the man who insisted I learn the process and then forget it, he always said once you’ve learned it the best way to master it is to change it to best fit your pursuits. I couldn’t forget that, and now there are few things more exciting than getting your developed film back after trying something new.

Cff: Where do you find your inspiration/motivation?

For me my photographic world can be what I want it to be. People don’t believe the photograph as undeniable truth anymore, we like to think it’s honest but we love that we’re being tricked, that’s why I often throw around the word magic, smoke and mirrors, we know we are being fooled, but we like it.  So I often find myself pursing images of nostalgia or “false-memory”.  I am an archiver, I photograph in batches and collect and collect and collect, it’s my way of playing make-believe.

Cff:  Aside from working, how do you spend your time?

Currently I spend my time working on my artwork or working at the bar down the block in Brookline MA. But if I can speak ideally, when I am not making artwork I would be teaching horseback riding lessons or riding myself at Blue Rider Stables in South Egremont MA, and eventually starting my own riding program.

Cff: What is one of your most transforming memories?

My third year in the art department at UMass Amherst, I had a professor that no one liked, I didn’t even like him to start, was it because he was unnecessarily brutal (honest?) or felt that drawing class should be some torturous skill development class? But one class there was a change, I don’t know if it was him or me, but I ended up having him head my thesis board and he always seemed to be one step ahead of me, offering books and artists and insights to my process and work while simultaneously being amazed and impressed at the work I was making.  From being the professor that students didn’t want to deal with, he became my most valued critic and support, he was insightful and impressed with my work.  And I will never forget that he hugged me after my thesis evaluation because he had never been so

pleased with an undergraduate’s portfolio. His conversations and presence came at a time that really ended up being a turning point for me in my pursuit of the photograph.

Cff:  Do you have a prized possession?  What is it?

I have a few prized possessions, my 4x5 I couldn’t do or be what I am without it…but I want to remind myself of my horseback riding instructors license because it represents all of the knowledge, time and effort I put into pursuing something that I love so much it has become a part of me.

Cff: Tell about a magical moment that comes to mind when you look back on your life experience.

A magical moment, nothing beats the feeling of galloping bareback through long grass. I remember going out one time after the rain with my best friend, we were running in the woods and came out into a field, the sun was making easy paths through the wet air.  Our horses were galloping in stride…it’s the most free feeling, yes it is as romantic and magic as it sounds.

Cff: If you were able to spend an afternoon with anyone – dead or alive, who would it be?  What plans would you make for your outing?

I would spend my afternoon with Alexander McQueen, he is (was) far and beyond the fascinating and talented artist I know of.  He chose to work in fashion and women’s clothing, but I think of him as a sculptor or installation artist.  We could do anything as long as I could see at least one of his concept designs, I would love to see the process.

Cff: What is your favorite color?  Why?

I like black. Black is always the new black, you can’t go wrong with black, you know what you’re getting with black and you can cover almost any mistake with black.

Cff:  What is your favorite place and way to spend time?

Wherever my camera takes me or my horse…in a dream world where all three of us end up.

Cff:  What is your goal or main focus for your next 12 months?

These next 12 months I am focusing on generating a portfolio to apply to graduate programs in fine arts. But simultaneously I am going to be running The Former Gallery, in West Stockbridge, for it’s second season. I am really excited about this year because as we were unable to secure our previous location, I made the decision to go mobile…putting art on wheels.  This season The Former Gallery is launching a mobile gallery fleet…one truck at a time and we’ve created a kickstarter in order to raise funds for the project! Our plan is to refurbish a step van or two and tour it’s going on right now, you can check it out here.  The Former Gallery is going to refurbish a step van or two and tour The Berkshires and beyond, bringing artwork right to patrons front door! It is in fundraising mode currently and a kickstarter has been launched in order to make efforts to have the mobile gallery running by memorial day!

Also check out our website and Facebook for information!