Bemis Center For Contemporary Arts

Catherine Ferguson: Natural Figurations | Gallery 3

Opening Reception: Friday, November 10 | 7:00 - 10:00pm
Artist Talk: Saturday, December 9 | 12:00 noon
November 10, 2006- January 20, 2007

Nature and humanity are intricately intertwined, and no one demonstrates that better than Catherine Ferguson. The artist has created a series of sculptures and drawings that redefine space and meld the natural to the human in elegantly intricate ways.
Ferguson created the work for Natural Figurations under the auspices of the Bemis Center’s Community Artist Fellowship. The artist was awarded the grant in 2005 in recognition of her extensive artistic contributions to the community, and this exhibition comprises the culmination of her award. For Natural Figurations, Ferguson created a group of sculptural, truncated torsos constructed of dogwood, willow, bronze and steel. She relied upon the uneven lines of twigs and branches – with all their unexpected angles and bends – to guide the flow and curves of the figures. In furthering her focus on the transformative power of organic forms, Ferguson fashioned a temporary bas-relief sculpture from dogwood that is attached directly to the gallery wall. While working in a Bemis Center Studio, Ferguson also produced two interrelated series of drawings that touch on nature’s structural unevenness. The first set features small rubbings of twigs arranged as torsos. The artist achieved the rough-hewn effect by using campfire charcoal as her medium. “The Okada Drawings,” the second set of larger drawings, relate more directly to the sculptures through their use of line to build figurative sculptural forms, and for these, Ferguson used a short piece of bamboo to recreate the feel of her natural materials. Says the artist: “My work relates to ‘shaping” space, containing space and defining space.’ These torsos are about an idealized human shape, the ‘transformed’ body – standing still but full of life.”

About the Artist
Sculptor and installation artist Catherine Ferguson creates multi-faceted work that reflects on profound personal transformation, and she uses art as a means to prompt reflections and change perceptions. She has contributed valuably to Omaha’s public art spaces through numerous public commissions, and her work is featured in public and private collections, including the Sheldon Memorial Art Museum in Lincoln, the University of Nebraska at Omaha, the Museum of Nebraska Art and the Landmarks building. Awarded an Omaha Public Art Commission in 2004, Ferguson created Totem for the Omaha Public Library’s Main Branch. In 2005, she was one of five artists chosen from forty to participate in the Bemis Center’s first Art 4 Omaha public art initiative, the Artist-in-Industry Steel Collaboration Project with Valmont Industries. For this project, she created “Sky Fin,” a large-scale outdoor sculpture on display outside Qwest Center Omaha. It was for all these contributions that the Bemis Center selected Ferguson as one of its first Community Artist Fellows.

About the Bemis Center’s Community Artist Fellowship
Artists in our community do a great deal to enhance our environments and enliven our public spaces. Yet they often don’t receive the recognition they deserve, fading into the background even as their art takes center stage. For this reason, the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts created the Community Artist Fellowship to recognize the talent as well as to nurture the careers of our local artists. The Bemis Center Community Artist Fellowship is awarded biannually to outstanding local artists. The Fellowships run between three to four months, and artists are granted studio space as well as free access to all Bemis Center facilities and equipment, ranging from kilns and forklifts to woodshops and darkrooms. The Fellowship concludes with a special exhibition of each artist’s new body of work. The total grant package is valued at $4,000 for each artist and includes a $1,000 cash stipend. Since establishing the fellowship in 2005, the Bemis Center has awarded the grant to artists Leslie Iwai, Larry Ferguson and Catherine Ferguson.

Special thanks and recognition go to Karen & Robert Duncan for their generous support of the Bemis Center’s Community Artist Fellowship Program and to Kristen & Mark Pluhacek for their individual sponsorship of Catherine Ferguson’s Natural Figurations.

Sponsors: Clark Creative Group, Duncan Family Foundation, Embassy Suites Hotel, Nebraska Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts, Omaha Steaks, Upstream Brewing Co.

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Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts
724 South 12th Street
Omaha, NE 68102
Admission and Parking: FREE
Phone:: 402.341.7130