Cat Bates

jewelry and accessories


I grew up spending my summers on Monhegan Island and my winters in Palermo, Maine. Those winters were a little archaic. The cabin we lived in was unfinished, and for a few years there wasn’t really electricity or running water. A wood stove and two-burner propane heater warmed the house.

We kept a herd of angora goats for meat. They were an unruly bunch. I once watched in terror as a buck, named Captain Piss-Gums Junior, launched my father into the air for attempting to trim the beast’s hooves. On another occasion a young goat’s fur froze to the ground on a bitterly cold night. I did not see the execution performed, but my mother left the house with a kitchen knife and we ate fresh meat for supper.

The brutality of nature was never concealed from my siblings and me, but we were shown nature’s beauty as well. On a cold day in early winter my father led me into the woods to show me a mound of dirt. Its surface was unremarkable at first, but he encouraged me to look closer and I saw that a willowy column of ice supported each particle of earth.

About seven years ago I returned to Monhegan for my first extended stay since childhood.  I made jewelry and worked as a chef, climbed on the cliffs and foraged for mushrooms.  For the next four summers I lived on the island.  During this period I started to notice the ways in which technology augments my physical capabilities, and to regard culture and technology as elements of nature rather than as constructs separate from it.  My current perspective is one of awe in the variety and beauty of all nature’s biological, cultural, geological, and technological creations.  Within art making I resolutely strive to further my understanding of nature’s scope, and my place within it.