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Botanica and Art

By Lucy Novaro and Cati Demme

When I think of Cati Demme I think art. Artist, designer, curator, writer, entrepreneur, performer and tai chi teacher, she is an artistic force in San Miguel de Allende. I met her seven years ago when she was managing the Generator Gallery in Fabrica La Aurora, where she became the owner and went on to represent more than 115 Mexican and foreign artists. Born in Philadelphia, she came to live in Mexico as a child with her parents (she speaks perfect Spanish). She was always surrounded by art, for her mother was an artist and her father a musician. Demme has a degree in studio arts from Boston, then pursued a masters in studio arts education at New York University in Manhattan and Venice, Italy. She was a professor in art history in Franklin Pierce College in Concord, New Hampshire, and a teacher of advanced studies in studio arts at St Paul’s School.

By Cati Demme
Sat Aug 4, 6-9pm
Moyshen, the Gallery
Fábrica La Aurora, Section C
Exhibit runs thru August

Subsequently she came back to Mexico to open Galería Santa María and later took over the Generator Gallery until last November. She has practiced all kinds of dance and has been a practitioner/teacher of Tai Chi for over 20 years. Cati also teaches studio techniques privately, specializing in drawing from observation. On this occasion she talks about her most recent exhibition which will open at Moyshen Gallery on Saturday, August 4.

Lucy Novaro: Tell us about your next exhibition in Moyshen Gallery.
Cati Demme: I created this series of work as a homage to my mother on the anniversary of her birthday. The theme is “Botanica” and the subject is the plant world captured on surfaces such as paper, canvas and wood in a variety of different formats using pencil, paint and charcoal, without the use of color— only black and white and a range of grays. The largest pieces are presented in a banner format. I am interested in Japanese principles of aesthetics and design called “Notan” in which there is a harmony and balance between the dark and lights, positive and negative spaces and the viewer can see this in my work. This series celebrates the innocent eroticism of the plant world, with an emphasis on shape and form.
LN: What is your inspiration?
CD: My Scottish grandmother and my mother were always fascinated by plants and were expert gardeners. I was always impressed as to how my mother knew all the Latin names. When I came back to Mexico I became totally immersed and fascinated in the abundant and exotic plant life and began going out to the fields to collect plants to draw from. I then took a course through the University of Chapingo and discovered that it was one of the most fascinating subjects I had ever come across and I became immersed in the study of Mexican plants. The course was based on the vast Aztec knowledge of the healing properties of the multitude of Mexican plants. Furthermore I have always been curious about the temporality of plants and flowers as well as their shapes and symbolism. In addition the Roman tradition in which each month of the Roman calendar is represented by a specific flower is transferred to the wooden surfaces of small boxes, enhanced with a gold leaf finish.

LN: Which artists have influenced you?
CD: Albrecht Dürer, Jon Hendrix and the traditional Asian artists.
LN: Why not use color?
CD: I only use values of gray because I wish to draw attention to the structure of the plant in itself; its beauty, originality and surprising details.. The forms can range from elegant, to whimsical, to grotesque.

Cati Demme knows how to express herself through any kind of art and in this occasion she does it through painting and drawings in this series “Botanica,” which opens at Fábrica la Aurora during the Annual White Party.

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