Amy Casey, Artist


Amy Casey’s painted world is a precarious one. There, houses on stilts stand teetering on the brink of collapse or hang upside-down above an unseen abyss, roads resemble roller-coasters, and everything is always askew and asymmetrical. If these disturbing ‘burbs are populated at all, chances are good it will be with the small, twisted creatures that fascinate Casey and often arise from her recurring apocalyptic dreams, during which buildings disintegrate and animals stampede all around her.

Casey, who likes to characterize her art as “landscapes without land” and leave it at that, uses her work as a way of reconciling the unavoidable catastrophes that we all face. The Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, for example, deeply affected her, especially since she had friends in Thailand. By creating series of paintings that depict imaginary small towns, however, Casey can dictate the disasters her structures and creatures encounter, and help them clean up and rebuild afterward. So, it could be her way of quelling the panic we feel with real-life disasters and addressing our human vulnerabilities, or, she confesses, maybe she’s just a control freak.

Either way, at the young age of 33, the 1999 graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art, where she now works as the project coordinator for the Reinberger Galleries, has already carved out a national reputation, with recent solo exhibitions in Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

Cleveland artist and critic Douglas Max Utter, who has written extensively about Casey’s work, ranks her “among the most accomplished painters of her generation currently showing anywhere in the US,” and predicts that “her career will continue to progress on a national and international level.”

Growing up in Erie, Pennsylvania, where she was a “giant bookworm” with aspirations of becoming an artist or a writer, Casey first truly acknowledged her visual art gifts when her high school guidance counselors gently directed her into the School of Performing Individual Arts. They then “twisted her arm,” she claims, and enrolled the reluctant artist into a summer program known as the Governor’s School of Excellence in the Arts, where she was impressed by the numerous other young participants from across the state who were so passionate about creating art.

She went on to earn her BFA in Painting from CIA, and then launched her career with a variety of solo, group, and two-person exhibitions at regional galleries, such as SPACES, The Museum of Contemporary Art, and Moxie DaDA in Pittsburgh, before staking her claim nationally, where her work has been shown at ZG Gallery in Chicago, POV Evolving in LA, Limited Addiction Gallery in Denver, and the Michael Rosenthal Gallery in San Francisco, among others.

Additionally, Casey has already won numerous awards, including Juror’s Mention, National Works on Paper Exhibition (2008), an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award (2007), Artist in Residence at Zygote Press in Cleveland (2006), and a Full Fellowship Award at The Vermont Studio Center (2003).

Ultimately, Casey says she prefers to just keep painting and let her works evolve gradually, rather than linger over previous pieces. Fortunately, there are plenty of others willing to do that for her.

Cleveland Arts Prize
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