Thursday, March 1, 2018

Video Footage of "An Inner Astronomy"~

You are invited to visit Catherine Nash’s exhibit on Saturdays 10-3 
and easily by appointment by calling 520-623-6723:

“An Inner Astronomy”  
Feb. 3 – Mar. 20, 2018  

Adobe Barn Gallery 
at The Triangle L Ranch
2805 N. Triangle L Ranch
Oracle, Az. 85623

Closing reception will be on Sunday, March 18th, 5 – 8 p.m.     
The artist will speak about her work at ~6pm.
After the sun sets, telescope viewing of the night sky will be provided 
by Mike Weasner of the “Oracle Dark Skies Committee”.  

Live music by hypnopad.

Getting in closer to the installation, An Inner Astronomy by Catherine Nash

A pan of the full exhibition

Monday, February 19, 2018

ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: “An Inner Astronomy: The Art of Catherine Nash" interview by Carolyn King

March 2018
Natural Awakenings - Tucson edition
Interview by Carolyn King

“An Inner Astronomy”: The Art of Catherine Nash

     “This is love: to fly toward a secret sky, to cause a hundred veils to fall
      each moment. First to let go of life. Finally, to take a step without feet.”
-Rumi (1207-1273)

     Tucson artist, Catherine Nash speaks about her connection to Rumi’s “secret sky’ writing, “I can spend hours staring into the sky, mesmerized by the expansiveness as I ponder our place in the universe. The vastness of space is an ultimate touchstone for me. The sky is a window to the infinite.”
     Born and raised in Connecticut, Catherine grew up in a family of more than four generations of sailors. Small wonder that the sky has held life-long meaning and fascination for her.  Water and sky have formed an interconnected navigational language for sailors across continents and time.
      As an artist, Ms. Nash creates mixed-media works combining materials such as found objects, handmade papers, and encaustic with the familiar tools of paints and drawing materials.  Her current exhibit is an installation of a “vintage-inspired, imaginary artist/astronomer’s lab.”  The exhibit includes painted maps, sculptural assemblage works, monotypes and a desk covered with artist-made objects.  Walking into the installation, the viewer feels a sense of the inward-turning awe the artist/astronomer experiences while contemplating the galaxies both beyond and within us. 

Catherine Nash
An Inner Astronomy, 2018
site specific installation. 21 mixed media paintings on Japanese kozo handmade paper, measuring 8’h or 7’h x 20”W.  suspended. Artist made objects, artist books, sculptures, and a file of 35 encaustic monotypes on the astronomers desk.

CK:  What brought you to the visual art path initially and what brings you back after an absence of nearly a decade?

CN:  I was raised by an artist/scientist mother and my father, who was one of the original New York City ‘Mad Men’. My great-grandfather, grandfather, and my father and uncle all worked on Madison Avenue in the advertising field. My great-grandfather was also a devoted watercolorist. My mother, a 50’s housewife, was both an artist and a craftswoman.  I have an indelible memory from age five of lying on the wood floor beneath her easel as she worked on an oil painting. I can still see the light streaming through the window and recall the smell of her paints and solvents.  I declared then and there that I would be an artist when I grew up.  I also had the great fortune of supportive teachers. One of my babysitters was a member of the National Watercolor Society. She started teaching me to paint when I was 9. My Junior High and High School art teachers were just excellent and gave me my foundation in art. At UNH, I worked with artist Sigmund Abeles. As my mentor, he coached and cheered me on for decades and remains a dear friend.
     Ten years ago, my life and studio practice shifted when I moved my mother from Baltimore to Tucson. She was living with Parkinson’s Disease, which meant my involvement in her care increased over time as the disease slowly diminished her capacity to move. This current exhibit has evolved over her final three or four years and is my first solo exhibition since her passing.

CK: My deepest sympathies for your loss, Catherine. Of course, your focus shifted during those years. In addition to her early influence, your life and work have been profoundly influenced by world travels, especially time spent in Japan.  Will you explain a little about the concepts of ‘wabi’ and ‘sabi’ in Japanese culture and how these ideas inform your creative practice?

CN:  While I don’t refer directly to these two concepts intentionally, my work has undergone an aesthetic evolution over the years which includes influence from both concepts. Pursuing a lifetime dream, I lived in Kyoto to study art, so the influence is perhaps inevitable.
Wabi’ is an old Japanese concept that refers to solitude and simplicity.  Originally, ‘wabi’ was directly related to the humility of Japanese monks or hermits who chose to live a life of poverty, engendering a detachment of material possessions. Today, ’wabi’ refers to a state of quietude and contemplation derived from living with simplicity in nature. The term ‘sabi’ relates to the impermanence of life and refers to a weathering of things over time.  Together, wabi and sabi are an aesthetic experience pointing viewers to the spiritual reality underlying all matter.
    My own work incorporates vintage elements and expresses a sense of an earlier era. And my focus has always been about creating objects and installations of quietude.  I aim to slow people down so we can experience nature’s time, as opposed to the hustle-bustle of our temporal world ruled by the clock.
Catherine Nash
An Inner Astronomy, 2018
The artist-astronomer's desk.

CK: Viewing the wealth of images of your artwork created over the years, I was struck by the recurrence of certain symbols. Can you talk a bit about your personal vocabulary and how these symbols speak through juxtaposition?

CN:  I think of my art work as visual poetry. By assembling images as symbols that are normally viewed separately from each other, their juxtaposition gives rise to a third meaning, just as poetry does. It’s a language of association and feeling.
As a life long artist, I have worked long enough now that I honor the Creative Muse without question when that non-verbal conversation between images and objects occurs in my studio. I don’t generally ‘know’ what the juxtapositions mean or refer to until after the work is completed. This aspect of creative process is where the magic happens! I am aware of an unspoken source as the imagery comes together as if on it’s own.
Catherine Nash
Center of the Universe,  2018
Media:  repurposed Victorian Collar Box, encaustic, silver leafing, oil stick, mirror, chain
Size: 4.5” h x 8.5” diam

Catherine Nash
Center of the Universe,  2018,  Detail

Catherine Nash
Test Tubes,  2018
Media:  vintage test tubes and stand, encaustic, cork
Size: 7”h x 12”w x 3”d

CK:  The current exhibit at the Triangle Ranch is called “An Inner Astronomy”. Can you tell readers something about the gestation and evolution of this extensive mixed-media installation?

CN:  The process for this work was a long one! I have been interested in archeo-astronomy for many years. People around the world and across time have looked to the heavens to try to address the question of “Why are we here?” It is an eternal question. 
My studies in this area included two very pivotal experiences. I lived in Florence for some weeks over each of 6 summers from 1996- 2002. In the Science Museum, one room was devoted to an exhibit of Renaissance-era astronomical “tools” beautifully made of wood and metal that were designed to impress but in fact, were only for show and measured nothing. That really struck me!  The other pivotal experience happened in 2006 when I traveled to the Jantar Mantar in Dehli, India. The site of an extensive observatory built in the 1700’s, it contains huge architectural structures designed as intricate, astronomical tools for reading the skies. The sense of scale and mysteriousness to my untrained eye truly affected me.
These two experiences indeed planted some creative seeds.  An Inner Astronomy is the creation of an imaginary artist/astronomer’s lab replete with star maps, books, and sculptures.  The work harkens back to a time before philosophy, spirituality and art were divorced from science and transports one to a world where inner and outer are one.

Catherine Nash
Journey to the North Star, 2018
Media: repurposed balance toy, indigo ink, wooden sphere, silver leaf
Size: 15”h x 11”w x 4”d (45” high with the threads)

Catherine Nash
Sky Globe,  2018
Media:  repurposed globe, encaustic, metal leafing
Size: 15” diam. sphere

CK: So, the concepts evolved through research over a length gestation period. What about the actual creation of the work itself?

CN:  In 2016, I had the privilege of working, for the second time, as artist-in-residence in the studio of artist Morris Graves who died in 2001.  This residency is a retreat setting. Resident artists are there to work almost like the hermit-monks of Japanese tradition. The rule is absolute solitude and no technology. No computer, no cell phone, no camera, no internet access for three intensive weeks. I photo-copied my research and left my laptop behind. In this focused environment, I was able to create 36 very large paintings during my 3 week stay. It was an amazing experience!  So much of my creativity had been put on the back burner while caring for my mother, that the work poured out of me as I worked in a state of reverie and intense concentration. The other works in this installation, which include assemblages, monotypes and mixed-media objects, were created more slowly back in my studio over time.
Catherine Nash
Dark Constellation, 2018.  with detail below
Media: repurposed vintage optical instrument, indigo ink, 24K gold leaf
Size: 7”h x 6.5”w x 5.5”d

CK: How has the path of studio practice served for your personal healing and how does your work provide healing for others?

CN: Studio practice is my sanctuary. It is a place and a ‘way’ to experience the gifts of quietude. The studio is a contemplative space to explore and connect with inner worlds where the Sacred and meaning are experienced.
     For the community, my work offers a moment for reflection and quietude. Our lives have become so noisy! We are constantly bombarded by the voices, thoughts and images of others through the wide-spread use of technology.  I believe that we need both beauty and quiet in order to perceive and receive the gifts of life and healing.

Viewers are invited to visit Catherine’s exhibit on Saturdays 10-3 and easily by appointment by calling 520-623-6723:

“An Inner Astronomy”  
Feb. 8 – March 20, 2018  

Adobe Barn Gallery 
at The Triangle L Ranch
2805 N. Triangle L Ranch
Oracle, Az. 85623

Closing reception will be on March 18th, 5 – 8 p.m.     
The artist will speak about her work at ~6pm.
After the sun sets, telescope viewing of the night sky will be provided 
by Mike Weasner of the “Oracle Dark Skies Committee”.  

Live music by hypnopad.

Nash exhibition: other works.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

"An Inner Astronomy" a solo exhibition by artist Catherine Nash

Catherine Nash
An Inner Astronomy
, 2018
site-specific installation at the Triangle L Ranch's Adobe Barn Gallery

Catherine Nash
An Inner Astronomy
, 2018
the artist-astronomer's desk

It has been so long since I posted on my blog...much has happened in my life that kept my fingers from the keys, but I am back in the studio and getting ready for a solo exhibition.  I've just been interviewed by and will be their February 2018 Profile artist.  Thought to post the interview here!
Catherine Nash
An Inner Astronomy, 2018
6 of 21 ct. (8 ft.L) mixed media paintings on Japanese kozo paper 

“An Inner Astronomy”  
A Solo Exhibition -  by Catherine Nash
Installation and Sculptural Assemblage
February 3 - March 20, 2018

Triangle L Ranch’s Adobe Barn Gallery
2805 N Triangle L Ranch Rd, Oracle, AZ 85623 (link for directions
Saturdays 10-3 and easily by appt. by calling 520-623-6732

Opening Reception Saturday, February 10th, 1-5pm
The artist will talk about her work at ~3pm.

Closing Reception, Sunday, March 18th, 5pm to 8pm.
The artist will talk about her work at ~6pm. 
With telescope viewing provided at Triangle L Ranch by Mike Weasner, 
Chair of the "Oracle Dark Skies Committee"  Link

Live music for both receptions by hypnopad

Catherine Nash
An Inner Astronomy, 2018
4 of 21 ct. (8 ft.L) mixed media paintings on Japanese kozo paper
Catherine Nash
Knowth, 2018
mixed media painting on Japanese kozo paper 
8’ x 20”


Tucson Happenings:  Please tell us about your new solo exhibition entitled “An Inner Astronomy.” 

Catherine Nash:  My solo show and new installation, entitled “An Inner Astronomy”, is my response to the mysterious beauty of our physical sky and my reflections on an inner space that I catch glimpses of during quietude and contemplation. I am very drawn to the mystery of the night sky and it has inspired my art for some time now.   My readings and research led me to study how varied cultures have explained the mystery of space and the planets and stars.  I discovered that there was such a thing as archeoastronomy - the study of how peoples in the past interpreted phenomena in the sky and how it influenced their mythology, music, art, and storytelling.  
My forays into this world have indirectly informed and influenced my new works in painting and sculpture.  But the only specific cultural imagery that I have used, out of respect for indigenous peoples and other cultures, was that of my own Celtic heritage: the ancient stone carvings in Knowth, Ireland (ca. 3300 B.C.), which have been interpreted as a lunar calendar, inspired one of the twenty-one scrolls in “An Inner Astronomy.”

Calendar stone from Knowth, Ireland (image sourced on

TH:  Can you describe your installation in more detail?

CN:  Of course~  My intentions with this new work have been to “recreate” the laboratory of an imaginary scientist/artist.  Twenty-one scrolls painted with different imagined celestial maps, constellations and grids are suspended in a curve on either side of the gallery and lead into a centralized work desk. Gilded orbs and globes cover the desk in different states of completion. Sculptural works such as “Specimen” and “Sky Trap” sit on the antique wooden table.  The drawer is filled with vintage art supplies and paper and tools of measure.  More scrolls hang above the desk ready to be painted by the astronomer.  The chair has a used work apron thrown over it as if the astronomer just left.

Catherine Nash
An Inner Astronomy
the Astronomer's desk in progress, 2018

Catherine Nash
Encaustic, dried moth and butterfly, 
found objects in an antique round box 
ca. 1912.
8”h x 7” diameter
Catherine Nash
Sky Trap
found woodworked pine and walnut wood, encaustic, oil 
stick, lashed willow branches
7”h X 13”w X 13”d

TH:  What emotional content do you feel is generated by this new work?

CN: A sense of wonder and curiosity.  My biggest influence is the awe that I feel at the mystery and immensity of space.  My artist husband, Robert Renfrow, talks about “the presence of absence” in photography…and I love that concept: “that an image can have an implied presence, an indication that something was there at one point and is now gone.” There is evidence that the astronomer/artist had just been there. The persona of “the being” that has been creating these works is very present.  I am hopeful that the viewer will project themselves into the shoes of the missing astronomer and embody a sense of wonder at our place in the universe.

TH: Have you had experiences in nature under the night sky that have fed your creative muse?

CN: Experiences are not hard to find in our beautiful, spacious desert, but one has to get out of the city’s light pollution to really see the night sky. I once participated in a special tour of artists up to Kitt Peak - as the day shifted into night, the light faded in slow gradation. The stars seemed incredibly close.  
On another occasion, the night before I was to hike down to Havasupai in the Grand Canyon, I lay down open air on the rocks. So mesmerized by the “turning” moonless sky, I barely slept. In the early ‘80s, while living in northern Arizona, I was invited to a Bean Dance within a kiva in the ancient community of Oraibi in the Hopi Nation. The dance eventually started long after midnight. Looking out over the mesa’s edge, the horizon dissolved into the sky, the full moon illuminated the timeless scenario and ancient landscape.  These experiences have colored my soul and spirit.  How can they help but influence my art?

TH:  Will you please discuss astronomy as a science and how it relates to your work?

CN: If an astronomer comes to see this exhibition, they will only find a few direct references to astronomical imagery.  Mostly this new work is imagined and in response to photographed phenomena and early drawings and writings by astronomers throughout the ages.  

I will add though that I’ve been researching a specific historical figure in the astronomy world, Maria (pronounced Mariah) Mitchell who was the first American woman to ever work as a professional astronomer. In 1847, Mitchell won a coveted gold medal given by the King of Denmark for being the first to discover a comet through a telescope. Two summers ago, I visited the island of Nantucket, MA where she was born in 1818 and toured through her birth home and first observatory. There, I interviewed the undergraduate astronomers on their first day of their summer internship.  
Last summer, I had a private tour of the original observatory built to Maria Mitchell’s specifications on the campus of Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY, where she had been a professor of astronomy from 1865-1888. In Vassar’s Special Collections, it was amazing and an honor to see all the original glass plate negatives that Mitchell made with her students.   Inspiring!  
All of these experiences and research have influenced these new works and installation within “An Inner Astronomy”.

Maria Mitchell, US astronomer and pioneer of women's rights, 
from a portrait by H. Dassell, 1851
(image sourced on

TH: Is there anything else you’d like to add? 

CN: This new installation has never been fully installed before, so I am hopeful that you will add a photo after the show opens officially on Feb. 3rd! I’ve been working on components of it for three years and it is now finally coming to fruition. 
The Adobe Barn Gallery of Triangle L Ranch in Oracle is the perfect venue for this show. The rustic interior with its weathered beams and adobe walls lends itself perfectly to the vintage-inspired feeling I am hoping to achieve. When actually installing, I’ll be also responding to the space itself. I’ve been so grateful to the Ranch’s Sharon Holnback and Jim Pollack for giving me the artistic freedom to install my work in any way I choose. Triangle L Ranch is an amazing place (host to the epic GLOW happenings during the fall.) Besides the Adobe Barn Gallery, the Ranch is host to a B & B, a local arts gift shop and a wonderful sculpture park that trails through the rock-strewn desert in Oracle. And it is perfect as Oracle is officially designated as a "Dark Sky" corridor. The Gallery’s official hours are on Saturdays from 10-3, or by appointment by calling the Ranch at 520-623-6732.  

And, of course, there are two events for “An Inner Astronomy” - both an opening on Feb 10th and a closing reception on Mar. 18th, replete with telescope viewing of the night sky by Michael Weasner of the Oracle Dark Skies Committee.  Hope that you’ll make the trek to Oracle!
Besides the installation, 7-9 other works by Nash will also be shown. 
Amongst these:

Catherine Nash
Bottled Sky
Antique tool boxes, antique bottles, found wood and vintage 
elements, encaustic, oil stick.
9”h X 13”w X 4”d closed; 23”w open

Catherine Nash
Sun Nest
Lashed branches, linen thread,
 found worked wood, oil stick, 24K gold leaf
27.5”h x 15”w x 5.5”d
(45” high with the threads)

Catherine Nash
Counting Moons
Japanese kozo paper, konn’yaku, hakezome with pigmented inks, 
wax, drawing, shifu thread of kozo paper.
65” h x 37” w