I enamel because it allows me to leave behind artistic artifacts that reflect the time and place that I live, New Orleans. I enamel in New Orleans because of the numerous costume holidays and rich culture from food to celebrating. Enameling is the ancient art of melting thin layers of glass onto copper, fine silver, 18k gold and iron. The first enamels date back to Egypt over 4000 years ago. Transparent enamels are enchanting permanent watercolors, while opaque colors are bold and graphic. My enamel colors are inspired by the vibrant hued houses in New Orleans and by the glitter and sparkle of the Muses parade. New Orleans has seeped into my soul and filters out through my hands and into my work, play and dreams.
Catherine DeYoung is a New Orleans artist living and working in the East Carrollton neighborhood.
Questions & Answers
Describe your art in three words.
Feminine, detailed and durable.
Describe yourself in one word.
What do you love the most about creating art in New Orleans? What particular part of your immediate environment, or in your neighborhood, specifically influences your work?
The colors of the houses, the plants, flowers, insects and people are all sources of inspiration for me. Details in a flowers petal, the dots and shades of brown, green, red and orange on a cicada and the color of my neighbor's eyes are what I try to recreate with enamel.
Describe your creative process. Are there any rituals or rites of passage you exercise before you begin a new piece?
I start by thinking very hard about my topic; I think about it for weeks, sometimes months. Then I imagine the piece of artwork that I want to make that expresses how I feel about my topic. I create a piece of artwork with very few sketches that comes out how I imagined it. I always accept happy accidents or details that my hands think of and my mind was unaware of. My hands have a mind of their own.
Some pieces I work on for years. Each of my more elaborate works has its time and place for being finished and can't be rushed.
Where do you draw inspiration?
My inspiration comes from the beautiful details that are all around me in New Orleans.
Who are your artistic influences, or gurus?
I have always loved the paintings of Marsden Hartley. I also have been heavily influenced by design from the Art Nouveau era, in particular the works of Alphonse Mucha. I idolize the enamellist Kenneth Bates. He was the godfather of modern American enameling; I have a deep connection with him.
In New Orleans, art and music go hand in hand. What type of music, band or song lyric best describes your work?
I think the music of Billie Holiday goes well with my work. I love the velvety richness in her voice. Her vivid visual lyrics have influenced many facets of my life.
Where can we find you when you are not creating art?
You will find me on my porch with my neighbors, my husband, my children and my cats; only some of us drinking wine.
What is your favorite time of day/day of the week/month of the year?
I love the morning time; I have energy and a fresh clean mind.
What is something people don’t know about you? A fun fact.
I have a serious phobia of suede. I really don't even like saying the word.
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Where You Can Find My Work
All works listed online are available to be viewed at Where Y’Art Gallery by appointment.
RHINO Contemporary Crafts Co.
2nd floor in Canal Place Shopping Center downtown New Orleans
610 Royal St. in the French Quarter
The New Orleans School of GlassWorks
727 Magazine St. in the Warehouse district