Catherine Ireland is an artist based in Brooklyn, NY. She was raised in Michigan, Indiana, Colorado, Arizona, and California. As an adult she has lived in California, Oregon, Arizona, and the Caribean.
She follows the availablist theory espoused by Kembra Pfahler.Everyday objects and materials transform into raw material for her art. For example, New York City sea water was dehydrated into salt for a series of paintings. She has broken a few cellphone and tablet screens by collecting rocks and other artifacts for later use in artwork. Expired makeup becomes paint. Boards left on the street have been carried on the rush-hour subway to become canvasses. The trash of beaches and boulevards alike comprised both her inspiration and media.
Depression-era grandparents taught her to repurpose every consumer product. Glass had just as much value as a diamond to her grandmother. She owned an Atomic Age book called “Don’t Throw It Away” featuring projects that turned trash into treasure. It inspired a lifetime of collecting and collaging. Throughout her training as a molecular biologist turned physician, Catherine collected bits of her natural and urban environment to combine with painted canvases and photographs into art.
Her health interrupted plans of practicing as an anesthesiologist. Her conditions caused her to literally see the world differently. She became obsessed with creating a visual representation to share her alternate reality. After operations caused brief usage of wheelchairs, Catherine found going through art museums in a wheelchair was a drastically different experience, and she turned it into a project for Merritt College in Oakland, California.
She factors abilities, gender and other physical characteristics of the viewer into her displays. For instance, in ci001898, when viewed from the height an average American man, the most noticeable thing on the painting is a makeup compact with the text “Your Skin But Better.” At this height, the painting appears to be a waxy, pale blue. At the height of the average American woman, the painting appears to be a deep blue with a vibrant aqua center and pink iridescence. She can see her reflection in the compact juxtaposed with the lightest and darkest foundation colors of a typical drug store.
Since 2007, Catherine has been suppressing potentially controversial beliefs due to her duties as a physician. Her illnesses have made her reconsider if such a dichotomy is healthy. Is it in patients’ best interests for their healthcare provider to have a completely neutral online presence? She has named her work with numbers to allow the viewer to enjoy it on a purely visual basis and ascribe their own meaning without the artist’s bias. If the viewer would like to take a deeper dive, they can try searching on internet and social media for the title of the photo. This will often reveal important dates in history that the works reference and/or information that Catherine or others have written about the work. Every viewer is welcome to rename a piece and share their interpretation of it. This both preserves the neutrality of Catherine’s beliefs, and allows for people to use her art therapeutically to explore inner narratives.
Catherine currently treats pain with integrative pain medicine, and holds doctor of medicine (MD), doctor of naturopathic medicine (ND), and master of science (MS) degrees. She is a medical advisor for the refugee mental health non-governmental organization, No Limit Generation. She is an ambassador for the American Medical Association.