The Heroine’s Journey of Cathy Breslaw

What is the best thing I love about my work?

I love the act of creation. I also like exploring various mediums that may connect with my ideas for a particular piece of art – or, vice versa – sometimes the ideas suggest the media. No matter how “life” happens around me, the opportunity to make art is my foundation and my touchstone, and that familiarity of a daily art practice brings excitement and comfort. My “work” is my connection to my heart and soul. This is not to say it’s always “fun” or I produce “on command” – it also brings struggle, doubt, questions, and frustration in the process of creating. Carving out the mental, physical and emotional space to create art is what I love and cherish the most.

2020.2.15_Starup Art Fair LA

Photo Credit: Mido Lee Productions    

What is my idea of happiness?

I am not sure I like the word “happiness” because it suggests a constant state of being and I do not think this is achievable for humankind – in fact, I think it is only one element of states of being that ebbs and flows over time. “Happiness” is when I can fully experience the moment I am in. Whether it be making art, traveling, reading, researching my ideas, conversing or spending time with friends or family,or being in nature, I feel the more I can be in the moment (not thinking of past or future) I am the happiest.

What is my greatest fear?

Though I probably have several fears, one of the strongest is that I would have some disability that would keep me from creating.

What is the trait I most deplore in myself?

My inability to reveal exactly what I am thinking or feeling about a particular situation or topic.

This could be sharing feelings and thoughts to family or friends or on social media or in my writing. I care too much about what others think. Fortunately this doesn’t affect my artmaking as my work can be interpreted in many ways and is more concerned about the “universals” of life rather than taking a particular position on a subject or feeling. I always admire actors on shows on Netflix etc whose characters are able to voice their thoughts or feelings bravely with no fear of reprisals.

Which living persons in my profession do I admire most?

Rather than identify specific names of artists, I rather comment on “work” that I admire most – which is work that when I see it and am in its presence transforms me.

What is my greatest extravagance?

When I think about “extravagance” I put the concept of “time” at the top of my list. I feel that my most valuable possession is time. When I allow myself to just hang out with no plan or specific activity I consider this an extravagance. I am conscious of how I spend time – what I do and who or what I spend time with so that when I give myself permission to just “be” and consider it “enough”, this is very unique and special for me.

On what occasion would I lie?

I would lie to avoid directly hurting someone’s feelings. I would also lie if my life were in danger.

What is the thing I dislike most in my work?

I work very hard to not set expectations for my work. I find that it makes me feel self conscious and inhibits me in staying in the moment of creation. I may have “dislikes” along the way in creating my works but I don’t exactly frame it that way as it is more productive to look at it as “problem-solving”.

When and where was I the happiest in my work?

There has been no particular “when and where” I have been the happiest in my work. The process of creating art for me is an up and down organic experience.

If I could, what would I change about myself?

I would let go of the critical part of myself.

What is my greatest achievement in work?

The way that I evaluate my achievements in my art is the ways in which I have shared my work. I have had solo exhibitions in small museums, college and university galleries, art centers and commercial galleries. This has given me the chance to share and educate the public, including students via workshops, lectures and portfolio reviews. Also my goal is to bring awareness through imagery created in my work things we miss in our daily lives.

Where would I most like to live?

A year ago I moved to Los Angeles and I enjoy it here very much. Museums, galleries, the beach, gardens and nature, restaurants – I also enjoy the diversity of the city as well. Aside from the pandemic and the limitations we now have, I still love being here.

What is my most treasured possession?

I believe my most treasured possession is ‘time’ – it’s what I value most.

What is my most marked characteristic?

I think I have a strong sensibility and sensitivity to others and the world around me.

What is my most inspirational location in my city?

Ordinarily, I would say the museums in Los Angeles would be my most inspirational

locations. However, because of Covid-19 and these places have been closed for several months, I have turned to nature for inspiration – the amazing Santa Monica beaches, the beautiful landscapes at UCLA, the Descanso Gardens and Huntington Library and grounds. These are places I frequent these days since we are separated from friends, family and our “normal” lives. Inspiration is necessity as we face such tough and uniquely grave times.

What books influenced my life and how?

Joseph Campbell interviews with Bill Moyers: The Power of Myth (the book and also The Hero’s Journey by Joseph Campbell. These interviews and books influenced how I think. I am drawn to philosophy and mythology and from these references, I more fully understand the “universality” of our planet and our similarities over centuries in how we live(from primitive man onward), and experience life and make sense of our “world”. Myths discuss connections we all as humans have through all millenia.

Another book influencing me and my work is Seeing Is Forgetting: The Name of the Thing One Sees – The Life of Contemporary Artist Robert Irwin. Irwin began as a painter from the Abstract Expressionist movement and went on the create other forms of sculpture and installation. At one point early in his career Irwin gave up his studio to shake up his art practice realizing that art can be defined in many other ways than those objects created in the studio and had the courage to reach out into the universe to find his way as an artist. I really admired his approach to the unknown and also his installation works as they seem to be calling attention to things like how light hits a spot in a space at a particular time of day and how that is considered “beauty” and art. Also that art is a way of “seeing” the world rather than being contained in a painting or object. I like that idea because it invites the viewer/audience to in a way “own” a piece of art that is available to all people at all times. It doesn’t have to be bought, teaching people to “see and look” at the world around them as art can be a random “experience”. I was very inspired by his ideas.

Over the years as an artist, I’ve realized it’s an “inside” job, not depending on a particular medium or art form.

Who is my hero or heroine in fiction? In real life?

I don’t have particular or specific people in mind however I greatly admire those fictional characters who have the courage to live by their beliefs, thoughts and moral and spiritual values. In addition those who speak their minds in spite of how others may view them and aren’t concerned about being liked. Also, those who go after their dreams no matter what their limitations may be – I most admire people who have the courage to push their limits for the sake of growth and understanding of who they are and want to become.

What role does art play in my life and work?

My art is completely intertwined with who I am as a person, and how I view the world. Making art is a touchstone for healing and rejuvenation and connection to the universe big and small.

What do the words “You are the storyteller of your own life” mean to me?

I can express my own version of my life in words, but in terms of my own art making, I believe the best way to “tell the story” of my life is to view the history of my work over time by viewing it, as I think it speaks to my personal experience and ways it gives a visual documentation of my experience of my life over many years.It also speaks to my overall “world view” and my artistic sensibility as to what is important to me – and what I want to bring attention to in the world. I am especially sensitive to nature, and to aspects of space and outer space.

Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime?

I believe my husband would be the main fan of me and my work.

Which people/companies would I like to work with in 2020 and beyond?

I am especially interested in having a solo exhibition that could exhibit some of the work I am creating during the lockdown and to include some of the work I have created prior to this time. I think there are some very interesting contrasts to the work created pre-pandemic and during pandemic – and some alliances.

I am looking toward contemporary galleries or small museums or art centers that would have some opportunities for me to exhibit. I have been in the process of researching galleries in Los Angeles where I reside and work.

Projects for 2020? Where to see my work?

Due to Covid, I have only online work presented – I participated in a collaboration in March/April called Call and Response – I was paired with another artist and we “answered” each other visually for several works over 3 weeks. (Link to article about this collaboration)

Links to my work:

Instagram: @cathybreslaw



What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me?

It says something I am always saying which is I will always create art no matter what – there is no expiration date on curiosity and creation! I plan to create until the day I die.

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