On the last Sunday of June Ahavani Mullen and I took a road trip to Michigan to launch our first FUSEDChicago Studio tours. Carol Myers drove us over to Kalamazoo for Cat Crotchett’s studio tour.
Former president and FUSEDChicago founder Shelley Gilchrist met us there and we were awed by the spaciousness of her studio in the historic building.
Cat Crotchett heard about our organization through a screen printing workshop with Jeff Hirst.
Cat studied art history and painting at the University of Illinois and obtained a master of fine arts in painting with a specialization in printmaking from Bowling Green State University.
She is preparing for a solo show— “Surfacing” — from October 15 to November 13 in the Richmond Center for the Visual Arts, Netzorg and Kerr Gallery at Western Michigan University; Kalamazoo, MI
The opening reception is Wednesday, October 9, 5-7:30pm.
As a professor of art at Western Michigan University, Cat has access to a woodworking shop. She designed her substrates in done Illustrator and had them custom laser-cut for her progressive wall installation.
Each substrate has slight modifications to it to represent the appropriation and manipulation of cultural designs over time.
Cat’s works incorporate batik techniques and she has a vast collection of batik tjaps.
Cat traveled to Indonesia to learn batik dying, and hosted an Indonesian batik workshop from which she still has wax.
We discussed the variety of inks used as dispersion pigments.
Cat dyes her paper and then works with encaustic, but it is also possible to experiment with pigments in medium, which creates more of a wash.
Inks mentioned throughout our trip include Kama Pigments, Pro Chemical & Dye, and Createx Pure Pigment.
Examining the tools was such fun.
So many colors!
Both Cat and Carol also work with Pan Pastels to add dimension to their art work.
Cat emphasized the importance of functional storage and found an industrial shelving company in Grand Rapids that allowed her to design her space.
Her studio building has a First Friday art hop at which the public can peruse the art spaces.
We could have stayed longer but there was another space to explore, so on to Carol Myers’ art cottage we drove.
Carol Myers remodeled her Watervliet-based studio cottage in 2012 and started living there full time in 2013. Originally from Baltimore, she worked as a registered nurse in Indianapolis and lived there for 37 years.
She eventually earned a BFA in printmaking. After suffering a loss, having the studio saved her.
Encausticamp became a breakthrough in realizing that every person has a story of pain and healing. “You can be cured and not healed, and you can be healed and not cured,” Carol said.
Considering herself a mixed media artist, Carol works with fiber, charcoal, paint, encaustic, collage materials and a host of other mediums that intrigue her.
Her collection of tools and gadgets and mementos reflect a variety of interests and influences.
She layers her charcoal drawings under encaustic monotypes for a lovely effect.
It was fun to see the contrast of her go-to colors vs. Cat’s arrangement.
Carol’s work is featured as best in show in the Summer issue of Still Point Arts Quarterly.
We were in awe of her hot-box setup.
Sometimes she draws directly onto her encaustic monotypes, which requires appropriate hand gear to avoid burns. She uses a stabilo all-surface pencil to draw in the hot wax.
Carol’s vision is to host art work shops in her cottage, with the option of an overnight stay.
There is a labyrinth on the grounds, and a water feature to relax by.
I wished I had brought my pajamas!
We left inspired by all the lovely tools, techniques and creativity exhibited in these studios. I’m eager to clean up mine and start experimenting!
FUSEDChicago’s next studio tour will be in the Fall.