Caitlin Stewart

Caito (aka. Caitlin Stewart, born 1985 in Ossining, NY) has shown her work in Tokyo, Japan and the greater New York area. She grew up in Ossining, New York, and received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Painting at Washington University in St. Louis in 2007. In early 2008, she moved to Tokyo in pursuit of adventure. She spent almost ten years living in Japan, working as a teacher, and then a teacher trainer, at an English conversation school, painting, studying Japanese, traveling, and performing as the vocalist of an indie rock band. In 2017, she moved back to Ossining to pursue her art career in a place closer to her roots. Most recently she has shown her work at the Peekskill Coffee House in Peekskill, New York. She relocated this year to Brooklyn in order to attend the graduate program at Pratt Institute, expecting to receive her Master of Fine Arts degree in 2020. When I first met death and familial conflict at age thirteen, I began using art to share experiences I couldn’t yet express verbally. Since then I have continued exploring the concepts of pain, death, loss, trauma, disease, sensuality, shame, fear, control, vulnerability, and isolation, but also independence, acceptance, resilience, and hope. During my almost ten years living in Japan, I became inspired by traditional Japanese painting, and the concepts of Wabi Sabi and Kintsukuroi, which talk about accepting and appreciating imperfections. This has deeply influenced my work, where I depict the conflict between human desire for control versus the necessity of submitting to nature’s own inherent order and chaos. The 2017 series, “Controlled Chaos,” and current series from 2018, “I Come From the Water,” both reflect attempts to confront my life experiences with love and loss. Rebelling against the tendencies of the art world to shy away from the emotional and sentimental, I set out to retrieve the parts of myself that have been lost or repressed (whether they were positive or negative) and allow them to resurface. Referencing surrealists and abstract expressionists such as Salvador Dali or Arshile Gorky, as well as my interest in cognitive behavioral theory and the writings of Brene Brown or Pema Chodron, I focus on relinquishing control and allowing unconscious parts of myself to be expressed through an intuitive, spontaneous approach. I treat the act of painting as a conversation, which usually results in the creation of imagined, almost alien-like spaces where I feel safe enough to be vulnerable and live my truths. While the process of creation is therapeutic, I find speaking out about my personal experiences both verbally and visually to be healing and empowering. I hope to encourage others to share their stories so they can find their own peace and strength.

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