By Melissa Dognazzi
To be a city of culture is one thing, but to embody local artistry and talent is far more enriching. In Worcester, local artists flourish like Van Gogh’s “Poppies in the Spring.” ArtsWorcester, one of the most notable galleries in the area, strives to promote these contemporary artists on their journey to recognition.
Dr. Catherine Wilcox-Titus, a professor at Worcester State University, is one of these artists, and she was able to contribute to Worcester’s local art scene. As the director of the Mary Cosgrove Dolphin Gallery on campus and a full-time faculty member, Wilcox-Titus practices her craft of still-life photography outside the classroom. While her work explores many aspects of life and death, she focuses on the bigger picture of the natural world.
“I like to explore the line between inanimate and animate,” she says. “I try to animate things we think are inanimate.”
The natural world is a mysterious one, and, as Wilcox-Titus observes through her camera lens, it is not always easy for the human eye to perceive all it encompasses. Her projects feature animals and insects that were once-alive. Drawing inspiration from painter John James Audubon, she is able to capture the very essence of life in the subjects of her photography.
Understanding the aesthetic is key to achieving such work produced by Wilcox-Titus. In her collection “Audubon’s Work Bench,” she works with Tufts Natural Animal Center to pose deceased birds in ways that simulate the life they once had. This is one of many lifelike collections by Wilcox-Titus, and she prides herself in using natural lighting techniques. This can be seen throughout all of her work. As most artists would agree, being hyper-aware of one’s craft is crucial, and contributes to the outcome of the piece.
The nature of the medium serves to capture a single moment in time, and this proves ironic, as the many of the pieces in the ArtsWorcester 2015 Biennial, including Wilcox-Titus’, present the idea of timelessness. Often working with natural light, Wilcox-Titus is fully aware of the minute changes a few short seconds can make on a piece. Photography can freeze a moment in time so one can examine it closely and understand its fullness.
Many of the pieces displayed in the gallery were awe-inspiring, and it was interesting to see such an approach to human projection on the natural world. The sixty-nine featured works consisted of an array of mediums, including oil and acrylic paintings, ceramic pottery, blown glass, and multiple styles of printing. All pieces conveyed a sense of reality either in terms of innocence, nature, life or death. Each artist presented his or her perception uniquely, making for a coherent yet thought-provoking show.
“Grasshopper Narcissus,” Wilcox-Titus’ digital archive print of a preserved insect, was one of many pieces that caught the eyes of those who attended the opening night of the Sixteenth Biennial ArtsWorcester. Elected personal favorites included glass-blown cherries, a disassembled dream-catcher, a hanging gun, nautical ocean waves, and the mixed media of psychedelic drawings.
Kat O’Connor, an adjunct professor at WSU, was also featured in the exhibit.
The Sixteenth ArtsWorcester Biennial was full of extravagant, conceptual work. The gallery continues to be an essential part of the Worcester community, providing an enriching experience for all artists and their viewers. For any aspiring artist interested in progressing in their field, ArtsWorcester encourages any and all persons to visit their gallery and become a member.
Gallery hours for the Aurora are 12-4 pm, or by appointment. Visits are free and welcomed! To find more of Dr. Catherine Wilcox-Titus’ works, please visit her professional website: http://www.catherinewilcoxtitusphotography.com.
Local art certainly isn’t hard to come by in the Worcester community – you can find art and culture coexisting in the streets, and experience those captured pieces in a great downtown gallery.