Annie Downes Catterson

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Woodcut Reliefs

Much of my work has developed out of my interest in Native American legends and indigenous art forms.  Although I work in several different media my focus has been predominately on the woodcut relief print. 

Over the years I have illustrated four books of Cree Indian legends which I transcribed from the ethnographic notes, myths and legends that my father, P.G. Downes (1909-1959) a North American Indian ethnologist, writer and Northern explorer, collected in the 1930's.  Kyass, 2011, The Legend of the Mimigwesseos, 1999, Wisakyjak and the New World, 1991 and The Story of Chakapas, 1987 were published by Penumbra Press in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  The images in the series are large black and white woodcut relief prints and comprise my on-going exploration of the totemic qualities of animals and the natural world in which they live.

Monoprinting is another medium I explore in my work.  The immediacy of this technique, in contrast to the slower process of the woodcut print, allows me to respond more quickly to the flux of a particular aesthetic moment.  In both processes my interest is ultimately grounded in nature and reflects my interest in animals and rural life.

Originally from Concord Massachusetts, I spent my childhood exploring the woods and wetlands, fields and rivers that were my backyard.  In the early 1970’s I lived on a farm in southeastern Ohio.  As an undergraduate I studied at the Massachusetts College of Art and The Ohio State University.  I received my BFA from OSU in 1976 and my MFA in printmaking from The Ohio State University in 1979.  In the summer of 1982, I enrolled at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.  While there I lived on a Salish Indian reservation where I found a comfortable affinity for the northwestern Canadian coastal region and renewed inspiration for my art.  In 1985 I received my MEd from the University of Illinois at Chicago.   

I began my teaching career while I was a graduate student at The Ohio State University.  I held first a Graduate Assistantship, and then a Graduate Associate.  From 1981 to 1983 I taught Visual Art at St. Paul’s School in Concord, NH.  For twenty-eight years from 1986 to 2014 I taught Studio Art at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools in Chicago, Illinois.  After retiring from the University of Chicago I moved back to my hometown of Concord, Massachusetts where I continue to work as a professional artist.