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Artist Profile Series: Cathy McClure

Megan Gallagher

Content Contributor

Photo courtesy of the artist

Cathy McClure is a Seattle-based artist whose work explores the elegance of the inner mechanisms of toys and the implications of disposable culture. Her work has been featured in exhibitions regionally, nationally, and internationally, and in late 2017, her solo show Dispossessed, opened at Seattle’s Center on Contemporary Art.

Cathy is best known for her creation of Bots, stripped-down versions of motor-based children’s toys that she then casts in bronze and sterling silver. She has been creating Bots since 2003, when she began exploring ways to combine her interests in metalsmithing and toys. “I never lost my interest in toys,” says Cathy on what inspired her to work with Bots. “Toys help to form the way we learn about our world and how we fit in it.”

In 2014, Cathy received an Artist Trust Fellowship. Funding from the award helped her create Mickey: Hardwired, an interactive installation that appeared at METHOD Gallery in 2014. The installation features the inner mechanisms of nearly 50 deconstructed Mickey Mouse toys hardwired together, something Cathy admits is “a difficult monetary sell (who has space for 50 bots cavorting in their home?) … and difficult work for most galleries to take on.”

Her most recent solo show, Dispossessed, opened at Seattle’s Center on Contemporary Art in December 2017. The exhibition featured a series of new bots Cathy had created and covered with gold leaf, marking a slight departure from her previous work. “Making the objects precious through the application of gold leaf was an obvious next step in my mind,” she explains. “Gold = money. Who would ‘throw away’ money?”

Cathy currently works as the Lead Artist for the expansion of the Washington State Convention Center, where she is helping create a context-sensitive art program for the project. She is also contributing new work for upcoming group exhibitions at Gallery One in Ellensburg and METHOD Gallery, as well as creating works for a future solo exhibition at Edelman Arts in New York.

Asked if she has any advice for artists applying for upcoming Artist Trust grants, Cathy says, “Document your work, take your job seriously and don’t let anyone ever tell you to ‘Get a real job’. Listen to your voice, constantly ask for advice, seek feedback and keep applying because you can’t win anything if you don’t apply. Most of all, never give up.”

To learn more about Cathy and her current projects, check out her website.

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Megan Gallagher is a writer from Redmond, Washington. She has been writing for the Artist Trust blog since July 2017 and loves learning more about Washington State’s arts communities.