I was raised in an old farmhouse in Maine, surrounded by plants, tools, animals, community, tumbling rock walls, and a decaying barn full of decades worth of friends’ forgotten belongings. Those aesthetics translate well to the decay and growth of New Orleans; my work is at home here in the Deep South.
I run my restoration and design business, ‘Paraph,’ from my home studio in the 7th ward of New Orleans. My business is dedicated to the rejuvenation of the stained glass trade by using traditional techniques inventively. I am passionate about plant medicine, cooking, gardening, story telling, and social justice. A career in art allows me to live joyfully. Pleasure, brought through inspiration and intellectual challenge, is a priority for me. I strive to share that pleasure with others through my sculpture.
My work is often either narrative or serves as a way to research new subjects. Through treatment of metal, wood, glass, clay and found objects, I explore the aesthetics of decay, vulnerability, and material and textural variation. In all of my work, I strive to blend patience with spontaneous decisions.
Please contact me about preserving wedding flowers (or any plant important to you) in glass, custom orders welcome! See more at caitlinwaugh.com and on instagram @caitlinezellwaugh
Questions & Answers
Describe your art in three words.
Inventive, Conceptual, Decay.
Describe yourself in one word.
What do you love the most about creating art in New Orleans? What particular part of your immediate environment, or in your neighborhood, specifically influences your work?
I pay attention to which plants are blooming in my neighborhood throughout the year, and to the architecture around me; the rot, glass, steel, and the sound of the boats on the river, and the squeal of the train on the tracks. I have such supportive neighbors who sit on the porch and go on impromptu twilight walks with me, and feed me when I’m too distracted by work to feed myself.
Describe your creative process. Are there any rituals or rites of passage you exercise before you begin a new piece?
Questions that I have about the world often prompt bodies of work. A list of esoteric architectural terms, for example, or health care in Venezuela, the prison industrial complex, or a desire to learn about the medicinal and poisonous plants of Louisiana. Some of my designs are ‘traditionally’ functional (lighting, vessels), and many are conceptually functional- making the work allows me to investigate topics of interest, and present them as ‘sculptural journalism’ to my audience.
Where do you draw inspiration?
Nature. Industry. My incredibly intelligent and creative friends and family. Joy. Sorrow. Found objects. Travel. Deep inside myself. Exercise. All six senses.
Who are your artistic influences, or gurus?
My father. My paternal grandfather. My next-door neighbor growing up, Norman Desroche. The glazier I apprenticed under, Barry Friedman. Amazing friends, so many! Brancusi is an old favorite. Susan Stinsmuehlen-Amend is a new favorite. Liza Lou!!
Where can we find you when you are not creating art?
In the garden, the kitchen, on the dance floor, traveling, visiting friends and family, building my New Orleans community.
What is your favorite time of day/day of the week/month of the year?
I have always loved the madrugada: late, late night. I love the summer, especially in Maine, which is where I’m from. I feel most productive in the fall, it feels like the new year to me. I was born in the winter (January 31) and I love the winter solstice holidays. I adore the lively energy of the Spring. Sunday mornings are also an especially sacred time.
What is something people don’t know about you? A fun fact.
My stage name for performances in the lawn as a child was “Tanya LaBamba.”
I still remember most of my routine to ‘Walk of Life’ by Dire Straits.
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Where You Can Find My Work
All works listed online are available to be viewed at Where Y’Art Gallery by appointment.