Cathleen Parra is a 23 year old eccentric artist from my own neighborhood in the Jersey City Heights. I met Cathleen through the BFA photography program at New Jersey City University. At first she struck me as a quirky and eccentric girl, who without a doubt, marched to the beat of her own drummer, but at the core of Cathleen you find this sensitive soul and this quiet natured spirit. Getting to interview her was a true treat, and I really look forward to following her work in the future, as this young artist begins what I am sure will be a long career in the art world.
WBM: First off, who is Cathleen Parra?
CATHLEEN: I am a photographer who enjoys creating my own reality, and then sharing it with my viewers.
WBM: Are you strictly a photographer or do you delve into other mediums as well?
CATHLEEN: My main medium is photo; that is how I document, however I also consider the props I create to to be art works in themselves.
WBM: What inspired you to pursue art, and photography in particular?
CATHLEEN: I would say that my love for creating “sculptural” objects is what drew me to photography. It began as documentation of the props and evolved into both elements working as a narrative. The objects I create from my shoots have a very child like home made aesthetic. I experiment with methods and objects such as paper mache, card board and appropriation of children’s toys and found/ recycled objects.
WBM: Are you a digital kind of girl, or do you prefer film photography?
CATHLEEN: I’m in love with the idea of film and all that it represents. To me film will always be something I grew up with like a sofa or a lamp. I remember perfectly what these objects looked like in my childhood home and look back on it fondly. I think of film with the same nostalgia. Despite all that, I do shoot mainly digital, unless I am shooting something meaningful and personal to me.
WBM: I hear you want to use your photography in a unique way after graduation, what’s that?
CATHLEEN: I have genuine interest in crime scene photography. I often try to make connections between infamous criminals and artists; more specifically their use of elements or principles of art in a crime scene. For example the use of composition etc. This is all intentional. I think that is what draws me to forensic photography. It is something I would like to do one day as well as my fine art work.
WBM: What or who inspires you?
CATHLEEN: I am inspired by mundane things usually. I enjoy noticing quirky things in a public space that most people don’t.
WBM: What has been your least favorite and most favorite jobs?
CATHLEEN: My favorite job has probably been working for a college exploration program at The New School. I did all the program media i.e. videos, website, photography even contacted guest speakers. I also ran afternoon sessions with the students. I’d lecture about art or run work shops about art history/techniques. I think art is a crucial part of education.
My least favorite job would have to be when I was working as a photographer on a tour boat, but hey a girl has to pay the bills right?
WBM: What are your plans for after you are done with college?
CATHLEEN: After college I plan to study literature at The Jack Kerouac Disembodied Poetics program in Colorado. After that I would like to get my MFA in Photography. I’m debating between The University of New Mexico which is one of the top five programs in the U.S. or Yale which is the top, naturally.
WBM: When did you start showing your photography in art exhibits?
CATHLEEN: I do a lot of group exhibits. I started showing my work around 2007. Since then I’ve have my work shown in several states including Florida, Texas, New York and New Jersey. The most memorable places to me where Everything Goes Cafe in Staten Island which houses performances from the political art group Bread & Puppet Theater every winter, The World Trump Tower and Maurizio Cattelan’s Family Business gallery.
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