Friday, August 2, 2019 – Words by Erin Stump Projects.
On the April 2001 cover of NOW magazine, Katharine slouches on a chair in a wedding dress over jeans and boots. She holds a ho-hum bouquet. “In my own practice,” she says, “I’m much more interested in issues around human vulnerability and people messing up than I am in theoretical constructs.” Messiness, mistakes. Katharine had talent for tossing the act and being real.
As an artist, Katharine created works of collage, sculpture and installation, but if she was true to any medium (“I’m not true to any medium,” she said), it was photography. Her photographs hold a force of family, home and love.
Never A Bride is photo series Katharine made in 2001 for a group show Visions of Me,curated by Sophie Hackett at Zsa Zsa Gallery as part of the CONTACT photography festival.
In the series, Katharine takes photos of herself trying on wedding dresses in thrift store change rooms — in each shot the camera [lash obscures her face and all attendant, possible selves. “The photographs,” says Hackett, “were both funny and sad, deliberate and artless. All Katharine.”
In a later series Not the father, a visibly pregnant (with her second son Satchel) Katharine stands with a string of different men — mostly recognizable faces in TO’s art scene, all in individual getups while Katharine herself, remains the same. In some, her gaze is cast down, hands on belly. In others, mirth plays around her eyes. It’s funny, casual, and wilful.
Being a single mother is an identity she claimed and made her own. Katharine’s legacy as a curator, gallerist and artist will remain central to the Toronto art community. Her work, in all forms, will be missed dearly.
Katharine Mulherin was born in Grand Falls, New Brunswick in 1964. She received her BFA at OCAD, pursing a double major in curatorial practice and sculptural installation. After dropping out following the death of her father and birth of her first son, Jasper, she returned, graduating with two of the college’s top prizes. Five months later, in October 1998, she opened up her first gallery BUSgallery, a small storefront in Parkdale.
Thank you to the Gladstone Hotel and Akau Framing for their generous support.