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Catheri n e Erb L C ooking to the

louds

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elf-taught fine arts photographer Catherine Erb says she has always had her head in the clouds. Her most recent exhibit, “Thin Air,” was a testament to a lifetime of looking to the clouds for inspiration. Featured at David Lusk Gallery, “Thin Air” was the result of 10 years of work for Erb, documenting clouds in planes, cars and on foot. Erb’s pieces are more than beautiful photos of clouds. She used a multi-layered mixed media process that utilized wax and pastels, resulting in stunningly complex and intricate works that glint and glimmer with depth and movement, just as they would in the sky. “Clouds have always fascinated me. When I was a kid, I would look at the clouds, and I thought I could just change their shapes with my mind. I literally believed that so much longer than I should have believed it!” Erb says, laughing, “The good news is that it taught me that my thoughts are very powerful. Maybe I wasn’t changing the shapes of clouds, but my thoughts do affect how people feel and the world around me. When I started shooting ‘Thin Air,’ I was kind of realizing that.” Erb used a specific process for her “Thin Air” pieces. Working with a fine arts pigment printer, she printed her photos to her desired size (for “Thin Air” she went big to encapsulate the feeling of sky). Each print was then put onto a birch board where it was layered with pastels and pigments along with layers of encaustic wax. The core of what Erb does is always her photography, but she is constantly developing the focus and magnifying the energy of her subjects with intuitive and playful touches through the use of her mixed media. She says that she began to get interested in photography in high school, beginning with her art teacher recommending the dark room to her. “My art teacher told me he thought I would be better in the dark room than I was in the classroom. He put me in the dark room and taught me how to process film and make print. He left me there for four years, which was just the greatest thing that ever happened. I didn’t know that I wanted to do photography as a career, but I knew photography was something that was a part of me.” After traveling in Europe for a while and working with other photographers, Erb says she began to use the camera as her journal. “I always wanted to write. I didn’t have the discipline, but I found that I could explore things in images. If I was working on an issue, I would journal about. If I was celebrating something, I would journal about it. But it was all in the form of images.” Recently, Erb participated in an exhibit in New York called “The Memphis Bowery,” a two-day exhibit featuring the work of five Memphis artists. She says she was honored to show with some of the best in Memphis and show off her Memphis pride in New York City. “Memphis is the best place in the world. It is a creative incubator. There is something secret in the air here. As a Memphis artist, I have felt safe to explore my work and share it with people. As an artist, you are constantly exposing yourself, and Memphis is just the softest place to land in terms of that,” Erb says. Erb isn’t stopping at David Lusk. In April, she will show in an exhibit in Charleston, S.C. called “Broad Spaces” and curated by Memphis art consultant Anna Wunderlich. Erb says she is constantly working on several projects at once. Polaroids are fascinating her presently. She says that she and her family stays in California in the summer because of her daughter’s allergies, making it hard for Erb to use her fine arts printer and other studio tools. So, she began tinkering around with Polaroids. Using her Mamiya camera with a Polaroid back, Erb has been handmanipulating the developer across her Polaroid images, adding gold leaf to them and creating small colorful, abstract images. Found objects also inspire much of her work, and, at the moment, she is working on photographing “portraits” of a collected set of moths and butterflies that were preserved in an antique entomological display case Erb recovered in a shop. “I just love taking old things like that and honoring them. I shot them like portraits, and they tell a little story. They are special.” Go to www.catherineerbphotography.com to see more of Erb’s work. Check her out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CatherineErbPhotography and Instagram @c_erb_photo. Story by Rachel Warren Photo by Steve Roberts 16 •

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• March 2016

Profile for RSVP Magazine

RSVP Magazine March 2016  

The Original Memphis Society Pages

RSVP Magazine March 2016  

The Original Memphis Society Pages

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