Meet two artists donating to VAE's For the Love of Art Gala & Auction

 Cathy Foreman, photographer

Why photography?

CF: I started my business in January 2012 and was laid off from my job in 2013 and that’s when photography really fell in place. My mother and I started going out on these drives a couple of times a week, just out and about in Raleigh and Durham. My mom is a free spirit of sorts and doesn’t mind getting lost — on purpose. The more we did this, the more I started to view scenes and people differently and seeing the beauty in the not so beautiful. It also afforded me the opportunity to meet some really cool and interesting people.

Then I was introduced to the Art of Cool Project. Quickly, I found that I saw things a bit different from some of the other photographers. I think my way, in a sense, is more whimsical but still telling and candid – and I really liked the fact that while there may have been another photographer on site, it was more apparent that we saw things completely different.

Life definitely changed as the years went on. Listen at me, I sound like I’ve been doing this for a lifetime, but that’s just how quickly this all happened for me. One day I’m on the train track, in downtown Raleigh, shooting railway ties and next thing you know I’m exhibiting my work in Italy. Yes, I would say that life has definitely changed and partly due to my camera.

You speak to interpreting performance and energy, within your work, what’s been your favorite concert or musical memory?

CF: Now this is truly a difficult question. I think if I had to choose one, I would say my favorite musical memory comes from the 2016 Richmond Jazz Fest. Set to perform was none other than Al Jarreau. When the roster was released, it was one of which I knew I had to cover. It was an incredible lineup with the likes of Herbie Hancock, Stephanie Mills, Vanessa L. Williams and Freddy Cole – but Al Jarreau, seriously … I mean come on! And for me, with Al, it totally was not about the capture, but more about the experience. And what an experience it was.

At 5:30, Mr. Jarreau took center stage and sat on the edge of a stool, with the sun beaming down on him and graciously gave us a piece of him. I was so captivated by the man, that I only fired off a few shots. Not many compared to the other artists I had covered that day or as a whole. I remember he

[c]Reflections by Cathy Foreman

made me smile. As a matter of fact while I’m remembering that moment, I am beginning to smile. I forgot about the heat, I enjoyed his energy and I smiled. I smiled a lot. That’s what I remember of his performance. Of the moments I was able to capture, I didn’t concentrate on him as an artist, but

rather him as a man. So I focused on his hands because that’s where I saw the music. His voice gave us the sound, but his hands provided the rhythm and the fluidness of the music. That’s what I saw and felt…and that’s what I captured.

Al Jarreau is a legend. The music was in him and he gave his all to the crowd. Before I had to leave the pit area, I heard him profess how happy he was to be there and that he would be singing on his deathbed. His spirit, I am certain still sings.

Why did you choose  to give the photograph “Throw ya hands up?”

CF: Honestly, I don’t know. I kept coming back to Grace Jones. I had my mind set on something colorful to show the full breath of what I do, but I kept coming back to this dang on black and white piece of Grace. Finally, I gave in and went with it.

How long have you been involved?

CF: This is actually my first foray with the VAE. When the opportunity came about to donate, I knew I wanted to give a piece because I have been blessed in this short time, but time kept getting away from me. When the final call came, I knew I had to buckle down and get it done. So I placed my piece in my car and set reminders as to not forget to drop the piece off. 

 Emily Malpass, Pottery 

Why pottery? 

EM: There’s something that gnaws at me about working in clay, and more specifically, the lidded vessels I make. I was talking about it with my mom, who was a potter in college as well, and she made a sort of off-hand remark like, “You must still be trying to fix what you broke when you were a baby.” So it turned out that one of the few pieces she had kept from her ceramics-making era was a raku fired lidded pot, and when I was about a year old, I had been playing with it and dropped the lid and broke it. It was so revealing for me to hear, and I suspect that every artist understands what it’s like to be drawn to making something without being able to really justify it, or explain why that particular thing sticks in the brain so deeply, so constantly. 

Why did you choose to give your piece “OPEN” to the gala?

EM: After I had my daughter, my world was really turned upside down in a lot of ways; physical, mental and emotional. It took me a long time to even want to set foot in my studio or touch any clay at all. It was like it made the gap between my former self and my current self too obvious, and it didn’t feel good. Eventually the clouds lifted and I felt my creative desires calling again. Right before I became pregnant with my son, I just randomly sat down at the wheel with my daughter in a playpen next to me, and I just made one of those lidded pots like I’d never stepped away from it. Like riding a bike.

I learned the technique for this form in a porcelain wheel-throwing and carving workshop at Penland School of Crafts. Even though I’ve been making pots on the wheel off and on since middle school, I don’t think I’d ever touched porcelain until then. It is an amazing medium and I got really hooked. I experienced how the properties of the porcelain clay really allowed me to indulge my finicky ways. I just made several different styles of that same form for the entire two week workshop. What I’m curious about is how tiny I can make these on the wheel, and also how to incorporate words or text onto them to make them as interesting to others as they are to me.

When I finished the piece, I carved word “KEEP” into it, so that I wouldn’t be able to give it away, or sell it. I like to keep the first and the last in any series of pieces I make, so my own collection shows me my development over time. So I went on to make a small series (a dozen or so) inspired by that  box, and showed them at the United Arts Council through VAE, and my donation piece, “OPEN,” is one of the last in that series. I love this piece and wanted to give the auction something I was proud to show, and something I know someone will love to hold in their hand, and use in their home. 

How did you learn about VAE Raleigh?  

EM: I moved to the area in 2009 and I just walked into the gallery on a First Friday. I entered a juried show with a painting that was not chosen, but I had such a good interaction with the staff when I went to pick up my piece that I decided to see how I could get involved. I started coming to all the First Friday openings, became a member and started attending workshops, volunteering for little things and pitching in when I could. Every time I set foot in VAE I connected with someone working there, or I met some other interesting person. I have always felt like VAE was looking out for me as an individual emerging artist, and it always, in some way, has helped me step into my creativity in that moment, so it only seems natural to give back to the organization when I can.

33rd Annual For the Love of Art Gala & Auction 
Saturday, February 25
Raleigh Marriott City Center
Tickets: Starting at $95; sponsorships start at $350 
View the pieces in the Silent and Live Auction. 


Want to keep up with what's up in the Triangle?
Sign up for our newsletter.