« Flower Scrapbook | Interesting Times” by Catherine Christiano opens on September 10 at the Lyman…



On view from September 10 to November 6, 2022

Opening on Friday, September 9 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The centerpiece of Catherine Christiano’s first solo exhibition at the museum is a series of large paintings that tell the story of a year. Each of the monthly panels juxtapose carefully painted seasonal flora with a collage of content from The New York Times. The still lifes are placed directly in the context of 2016, the emotionally charged and pivotal election year in which the series was conceived.

The concept of a “Flower Album”, of associating flowers with the months of a year, is common in Eastern and Western art traditions. Because Catherine Christiano wanted to represent local plants and flowers alive, and as if growing in the landscape, she turned to historical examples of early Japanese and Chinese artists, such as Tao Rong (China, 1872-1927) and Katsushika Hokusai (Japan, 1760 – 1849). “I found an aesthetic model in their lyrical flower paintings which often incorporated calligraphy and poetry. As with paintings from the Edo period in Japan, elegance, space and rhythm of layout were important to me in the design of my paintings. The Japanese term mom, which means “hole”, “space” or “pause”, is a concept where negative “empty” space carries as much weight as flowers in paintings. The negative space in my series, however, is filled with images and newspaper texts, forcing everything into the picture plane and filling the “emptiness” with current events. »

The backgrounds, designed to look like a front page, represent the ubiquitous backdrop of societal activities in daily life. Catherine Christiano sifted through piles of New York Times material from January 2016 to January 2017 to carefully construct the collages. She tried to present a summary of the information of this historically important election year. References to ordinary events, such as holidays and seasonal activities, are mixed with reports that are more historically significant. As in a real newspaper, in each box the banal rubs shoulders with the catastrophic and there is at least one reference to the death of a public figure.

The series Flower Album | Interesting times combines the traditions of the graphic with the painted to juxtapose the activities of society with nature. It represents an attempt to depict the artist’s everyday experience of physically, psychologically and virtually navigating between the two worlds. “With the news now circulating all the time, I check the websites several times a day. While painting, I listen to podcasts and news shows. With what I have heard or read still in mind, I can shift realms and head outward to where my flower garden feels evergreen, uplifting, and offers respite from chaos.

Before earning a BFA and becoming a full-time studio artist, Catherine Christiano spent her twenties earning and working in engineering and finance degrees. Among the positions she held was one at the World Trade Center, for which read The Wall Street Journal was intrinsic to his morning work routine. Because newspapers have been ubiquitous in her life, when she turned to art, she instinctively incorporated them into her work.

In addition to Flower Album | Interesting times series of paintings, this exhibition includes a selection of early works and some preliminary floral paintings. The first works show the evolution of Catherine Christiano’s work with press imagery. Included are several intricate graphite drawings and a collection of oil still lifes painted on cropped newspaper pages.

The exhibition will be presented from September 10 to November 6, 2022 at the Glassenberg Gallery on the first floor as part of the series Near the Museum:: New Contemporary Series.

WHERE: Lyman Allyn Art Museum, 625 Williams Street, New London CT


Catherine Christiano is a Connecticut-based artist known for her detailed figurative works. Often working in series, the pieces she creates may include multiple panels, mirrors or painted still lifes juxtaposed with newspaper content reflecting contemporary concerns. His work has been included in exhibitions at a number of regional museums and university galleries, including the New Britain Museum of American Art. She has also exhibited at the George Billis Gallery in New York and Los Angeles. This is his first personal exhibition in a museum.


2016 was the last year of Barack Obama’s presidency and Hillary Clinton became the Democratic presidential nominee, making history as the first woman to be nominated by a major political party. Donald Trump, an outsider and political underdog stunned the world when he was nominated and then elected president.

Internationally, US intelligence has agreed that Russian agents interfered in the US presidential election. Britain voted to leave the European Union. Colombia has reached a peace agreement. The Syrian civil war continues. North Korea conducted nuclear tests. Major terrorist attacks have taken place in Nice, Belgium and Orlando. President Obama made a historic visit to Cuba.

The Zika virus has become a global health threat. 2016 was the hottest year on record and Houston was inundated with 2 feet of rain in a single day, signaling the threat of climate change. President Obama has declared a state of emergency in response to the Flint water crisis. The rise in hate crimes in the United States was linked to Trump’s rhetoric. The Catholic Church sex abuse scandal continued. Players of the United States women’s soccer team have expressed salary bias. The struggle for transgender rights culminated in toilet bills that limited access to toilets. Five police officers were killed in revenge for the traffic stop that killed Philando Castile, an African-American man. This signaled a growing intolerance of a racist criminal justice system.

The US Treasury announced it would replace former President Andrew Jackson with abolitionist Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, an effort later shelved by the Trump administration. Simone Biles impressed the world with her gold medal achievements at the Olympic Games in Brazil. The Chicago Cubs won the World Series for the first time in 108 years. Broadway Musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda hamilton was a resounding success. NASA’s Juno space probe has arrived on Jupiter. Scientists have proven that Einstein’s general theory of relativity is correct.

Public figures who died included musicians David Bowie and Prince, actors Gene Wilder and Carrie Fisher, bandleader Neville Mariner, playwright Edward Albee, author Harper Lee, fashion photographer Bill Cunningham, architect Zaha Hadid, the artist Marisol, the television journalist Morley Safer, the boxer. Muhammad Ali, golfer Arnold Palmer, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, astronaut John Glenn, former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, former Israeli President Shimon Peres and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel.

In January 2017, Barack Obama’s presidency ended and Donald Trump was sworn in. In Washington DC, anti-Trump protests have erupted. The day after the inauguration, the Women’s March, a global protest sparked by Trump’s statements considered offensive and anti-women, took place. President Trump has signed an executive order ending all refugee admissions to the United States and barring people from seven Muslim-majority countries.