Catherine-Esther Cowie, Heirloom, Mixed Media Collage

Catherine-Esther Cowie, Auntie G. My Dahomey. My Amazon., Mixed Media Collage

Catherine-Esther Cowie, Hello Again, Blès, Mixed Media Collage

Catherine-Esther Cowie, The Queen of All the Dirt, Mixed Media Collage

I work in collage for its accessibility, for its infinite possibilities beyond working solely in paper but incorporating ink, watercolor, textiles and 3D elements. This series features cut-outs from fashion magazines, images of orchids and magenta India ink. I seek to map the emotional landscapes of my subject matter, women, immigrant women, Caribbean women and the complexity of emotions/states that simultaneously exist: shame and pleasure, loss and strength, beauty and ugliness.

The portraits in this series began as a form of play: I wanted to see how paper and ink could work together. They represent fears, griefs, memories, self-perceptions etc. The piece titled, “Hello Again, Blès” explores how I experience trauma. A sneaky buried wound…then a trigger…through a body now. “Blès” means internal wound in St. Lucian Kwéyòl.

Naming this collection “Heirloom” gestures to a writing project that I am working on that explores what we pass on or give to another generation: ruin and/or redemption. What was carried in the bodies of my mothers: their fears, trauma, loves, afflictions, histories. How some of it is transmitted through story, through their bodies— their way of moving and being in the world. These portraits explore what I carry around in my body…what I may or may not pass on…