Artist Statement

Casey : Artist Statement

Attracted to social, political and cultural issues, I create artist books to inform, illuminate and send a message. Intellectual content is mandatory and often references to nature. A Tribute to the Bee was a response to the varroa mite which is destroying bee colonies. The book celebrates bees, their importance and plight, an ecological disaster in the making.

Unknown woman is a tribute and my commemoration of an unknown Japanese woman and the short lives of her three children from 1895-1900 from her brief diary in Revelations – Diaries of Women, edited by Mary Jane Moffat and Charlotte Painter. I was compelled to honor unknown woman’s hard work, devotion and love of family.

Two artist books, Common Mullein and Klamath Basin Water Samples for the Jefferson Nature Preserve and the EcosInstitute [Medford, OR], interpreted data concerning the increase in global warming compiled by the EcosInstitute. I made a presentation to the Jefferson County community explaining my research and interpretation.

Passim features the minority members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition and their highly important contributions to the success of the venture. It won an Honorable Mention from the National Parks Service and City of Astoria in the Lewis and Clark Journey’s End National Art Competition.

With an aversion to art one-liners, I go for the intellect. Using poetry, literature, biography and personal experience, I expand ideas into politically-charged art. Years ago an article in the Sunday New York Times Magazine resulted in the artist book, A Tribute to the Bee, because the varroa mite was beginning to destroy bee populations. I delve into politics and controversial subjects with the hope that someone somewhere will be convinced enough to reflect, even for a few minutes. To care. Perhaps to be inspired enough to take action. Maybe even effect change.

Artist books are often small worlds of experience, information and exploration. They are inextricably about the process of viewing and exploring the book, a complete sensory experience. They are horribly undervalued in the art world, largely considered a craft, and may not survive the scrapbooking movement.


My domestic and wildflower drawings are en plein air documentations of the fleeting and seasonal nature of plants. I find that the way the leaves join the stem, the variety of petals and the intricate design of the reproductive parts to be endlessly fascinating, marvels of design and wizardry. While my botanicals allude to the old specimen-style of presentation, they are contemporized through color, design and aliveness. They have not been plundered, drawn statically and categorized, they are reaching for the light, interacting and growing. I am bringing nature to you, putting it into your hands.

I also create imagery that reflects my reverence for the natural environment. My homage to the Whitebark Pine “Ghost Trees” from my artist-in-residency at Crater Lake National Park, fall 2010, documents the disappearing pines, victims of climate change, bark beetles, pine rust, reduction in snowfall and the departure of Clark’s nutcrackers which are primarily responsible for the dissemination of their seeds.

I employ design, drawing, illustration, beading, sewing, twining, folding, paper manipulation, graphite, letterpress, colored pencils, sculpture and many other mediums and crafts necessary to promote ideas.

I particularly adore paper. Everything about paper is positive: books, print, drawings, models and mock-ups. The variety of surface, color and texture plus the malleability and rigidity is a constant source of surprise and delight. It is also an ecological and environmentally friendly material, important to me.

Cathleen Casey
Artist Books / Botanicals
7950 SE 107th Avenue
Portland, OR 97266-6330