Interview With Cat Rigdon

Could you give us a brief introduction to who you are and what kind of work you make?
I am a bookish, wiz kid thus I can pick-up a volume and retain almost everything; which landed me the position of Lead Decorative Arts Cataloger at Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas.  Well I also have a background in the Decorative Arts, my parents both having received their master’s in the subject from Parsons.  They worked with collections and museums, started a gallery and dragged my siblings and me through a plethora of museum collections while under their roof.  Thus it really stuck with me. 
Working at an auction house is different than dealing with a museum collection: it is necessary to strip all remnants of the previous owner from each lot.  The death of the object.  I mourn and squirrel away these artifacts within zip-lock baggies.  During my mourning process I watch X-Files and Korean dramas, while silently beading and sewing sealed vinyl enclosures.

Where do you gather most of the inspiration for your works?
My first bid assignment with the company was to help process a multi-thousand piece collection of silver match safes (little cases that people carried their much combustible matches in).  The owner has inserted a strip of paper/sticker/note within each match safe; a story of the purchase, a little note and picture of the safe.  This collection started the act of creating memorials.  Resulting in whipping out many little stuffed, beaded fabric tags replicating what I had found and sealed them in their designated vinyl baggies. My other inspirations is my smoky pearl angora buck, Gorgeous George (more commonly called Beep Beep).

What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
My tambour needle!  My life improved 10-fold after my aunt gifted me the needle she purchased while visiting Lesage in the 90s.  It looks like a miniature crochet hook, but using a chain stitch it makes beading way easier on my pre-arthritic hands.  I had once beaded while lying on the futon and couldn’t find it the next day, instant panic attack then proceeded to order 2 more on Amazon.  Soon to find the needle hiding under my pillow…  Serious stuff.

What types of obstacles have you run into in your artistic practice and how do you go about navigating around them?
The winter.  Cold hands and cold feet don’t make beading very easy or enjoyable.  I ordered a Happy Light (a S.A.D. light) and a put the heater right next to me.  Otherwise the practice is so engrained in my system, making is automatic, to the point that making is the obstacle in my life.

What do you feel are the recurring themes in your visual work? 
Sealing everything away in bags makes the work absolutely complete.  It resolves the feeling of needing re-entering and re-visit works, because once the piece is done, it is done.  Very tedious, repetitive bead and embroidery is also a recurring thing.  Theme wise: romance and hoarding.

Is there a particular artist you feel you relate to? Who are your role models (artists or non-artists)?
Non-artist, non-person: The Courtship of Sea Creatures by Jean-Pierre Otte.
It is an erotic manuscript about the courtship of sea creatures, and what is not relatable about that?

What is the best piece of artistic advice you’ve been given?
“Make a plan, work the plan.”
Ashe Laughlin, my favorite professor during undergrad.

Moomah Is Always Watching Beading and fabric collage on gingham, adhesive vinyl on vinyl 10 x 10 in.

Moomah Is Always Watching
Beading and fabric collage on gingham, adhesive vinyl on vinyl
10 x 10 in.

Chiweenie Gang Mohair, alpaca, beads on found fabric, one shot and adhesive acetate on vinyl 15 x 10 in.

Chiweenie Gang
Mohair, alpaca, beads on found fabric, one shot and adhesive acetate on vinyl
15 x 10 in.