New York Artist Catherine Mosley uses geometric shapes and patterns to evoke a sense of depth and movement in her pieces, simultaneously conjuring mathematical calculation and chance in her creative process. While her past works have included collage and whimsical narratives, Mosley has gravitated in a different direction with her latest show, Up Down & Sideways, which just opened at A.I.R. Gallery. Though there is a sense of uniformity and structure in this set of work, each piece has its own equation that Mosley has come to by means of a meditative artistic process and just the slightest of variations. I sat down with the artist to discuss this process, to take a look at her work, and to understand her intentions for the show on a deeper level.
Nora Kovacs: Your prints have a lot of complexity to them in terms of depth and layering. Do you begin with an initial sketch and add layers until you reach a finished product, or do you have an image in your mind of what exactly you want it to look like in the end?
Catherine Mosley: I start with these large, stenciled grids and just keep printing them until I feel like it's finished. Sometimes it's a completely random process and other times I use the ghost prints to sort of mirror the first inked prints. For Up Down & Sideways, I did a lot of the pieces in pairs, so one is a reverse of the other, it’s a complete flip. I'll start with the dense, orange ink, keep printing it, and then the black is laid on top. I generally use what’s left over for something else; I don’t like to waste anything. I save all the ghost prints because I know I’ll find a way to use them later on. Normally they go on newsprint and the newsprint gets thrown away, but I just thought, "Too much good stuff is going on the newsprint! I’ve got to save it and use it for something else,".
NK: It’s pretty wild how three-dimensional the pieces end up looking, just from layering and making use of those ghost prints. How do you manipulate the colors you use to get that effect?
CM: The pigment is so rich, so dense, it resonates so much more than paint. It’s embedded in the paper, pushed in with the press, so it takes a long time to dry, but once it dries it will never fade. You can leave it in the sun for hours and it won’t change. And the thing about this ink is you get a really beautiful half tone. It’s still rich enough to make color and then reversing it reinforces the unity of the pattern even though it’s going in different directions. That's why a lot of people see the work and they think the original idea might have come from a computer. But it’s just a coincidence.
NK: Yeah, it's almost a cross between a digital, computer grid and a city skyline.
CM: Right, well I have done some other pieces with a deep blue and bright yellow and the yellow really jumps out. That, to me, is closest to a New York skyscraper at night, blue and yellow and orange. The digital aspect is really just a coincidence, but it works because the pieces are so lively.