by Greta Honsberger
LOCAL TALENTED AND ACCOMPLISHED artist Cathy Trione embarked on her artistic journey against a backdrop of creative inspiration and nurturing. “Even as a small child,” Cathy notes, “I was intense about my artwork.” In later years, she found herself fortunate to be part of an exceptional art department at Archbishop Toolen High School in Mobile. The department provided a fertile ground for exploring and appreciating contemporary art. The influence of one particular nun, who had worked with renowned artist, Sister Corita Kent, encouraged Cathy in artistic expression. This formative experience laid the foundation for Cathy’s artistic growth and experimentation. In her senior year, Cathy received recognition for her exceptional talent and was honored with Mobile’s Genevieve Sutherland Art Award. Cathy explains that it was a surprising accolade considering her chosen medium—a watercolor, pure abstraction adorned with the inscription “Dostoevsky” in India ink. Cathy’s deep immersion in the works of Dostoevsky that year exemplified her intense commitment to abstraction. The 1960s, marked by the rise of influential artists like Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, infused Cathy’s artistic journey. It was a time of expressive revolution, and Cathy Trione’s trajectory as an artist was only beginning to blossom amidst this exhilarating era.
As Cathy entered college, she pursued a double major in history and philosophy at Spring Hill College. During her time there, she took several courses under the guidance of Paul Anthony Feldhaus. An esteemed printmaker and art department chair at the time, Feldhaus’s expertise and passion for art left a lasting impression on Cathy. She recalls a particular day in class when Feldhaus called art “enriching a surface.” This idea resonated deeply with her then and now. Feldhaus currently has three pieces of his engraved work in the National Gallery’s permanent collection. Incidentally, as Cathy graduated from Spring Hill, local artist Jim Richard arrived as a new instructor.
In 1970, Cathy’s path led her to New Orleans, where she enrolled at Tulane University to pursue a graduate degree in philosophy. Balancing her diverse range of interests and later the responsibilities as the mother of four children, Cathy embraced a career as a librarian. This role allowed her to indulge in her passion for knowledge as she worked as a generalist in local libraries for over three decades. Throughout her career, Cathy has never let go of her artistic pursuits, consistently drawing and painting as a personal expression.
In the early 2000s, Cathy reignited her commitment to painting, taking it more seriously than ever before. Drawn to the physicality of paint and captivated by the vibrant allure of color. Cathy says, “Color itself inspires. I want to be a Fauve.” A bold palette, unwavering focus on design, and the placement of color are essential to Cathy, but there is also the line. Cathy details this by explaining, “A recent work on Prudhon refers to the ‘elusive line’ in art. That is what I look for – the elusive line.” Finding inspiration in the elusive nature of line in art, Cathy seeks its captivating presence within her work.
When approaching a new painting, Cathy’s meticulous attention to detail shines through. She draws and calculates the placement of objects, often entering the creative process with a specific palate in mind. Working swiftly to establish the initial design, she likes to keep a continuous flow until she feels a sense of satisfaction with the painting’s direction.
Cathy sometimes paints on-site, immersing herself in the surroundings, but she also uses photographs as references, finding inspiration in the scenes captured through a lens. The Magnolia featured in her upcoming show is from a photo she took at Audubon Park. Also featured in her upcoming show is a painting with women working in a cane field. Cathy created the pastoral piece after contemplating the 1890s photograph Cutting Sugar Cane in Louisiana by William Henry Jackson.
“Can an artist work and live in the Deep South and not be drawn to botanicals?”
Cathy is specifically referring to New Orleans, “a garden,” she calls it. Living in New Orleans she encounters captivating shapes and forms in nature at every turn. Recently, her artistic exploration has gravitated towards the enchanting allure of allées. Her own contribution to the allée theme, displayed in the exhibition, is an oil painting based on a photograph from Guion’s exquisite book, Quercus Louisiana: the Splendid Live Oaks of Louisiana. The photograph she uses is from Greenwood Plantation.
In her ongoing artistic journey, Cathy Trione’s commitment to painting, her deep connection to the physicality of the medium, and her homage to color and design continue to guide her. In the future, Cathy anticipates creating more family portraits and focusing on recapturing the abstraction that was such a part of her childhood.
Cathy Trione’s exhibition opening will be at White Linen Night on August 5th at The Degas Gallery, 604 Julia Street, New Orleans. For more information visit thedegasgallery.com