Encountering one of Catherine Moberg‘s sculptures is like rediscovering a shoebox filled with notes from your high school friends or opening a drawer stuffed with your favorite totems and souvenirs from travels abroad. Working from observation, Catherine creates three-dimensional ceramic displays, layered with personal items from her own life or others’ lives. From fresh fruits to old books and sheets of music to jewelry and perfume bottles, she stages elements from everyday events that procure a resonant nostalgia for times past.
Catherine, who creates her works in Nashville, TN, has always considered herself a “maker of things,” a Martha Stewart of sorts. An avid crafter, sewer, gardener and cook, she fell into ceramics (and gracefully so) when her neighbor, Sylvia Hyman, also an acclaimed artist, asked Catherine to assist her in her studio. Once she had mastered the techniques, Catherine began to take liberties with her work, imbuing it with a personal touch. She had always been intrigued by trompe l’oeil sculpture and longed to adapt it to her own practice. Many of Catherine’s sculptures are autobiographical, filled with replicas of items from childhood or things relevant to her adult life. Attuned to scale, color and depth, she recreates incredibly detailed vignettes, allowing us to access her cherished memories and to hearken our own.
Catherine has also produced a generous amount of commissioned pieces. Once friends and family recognized her talent, they, too, wanted items that commemorated certain times in their lives. From fishing boxes littered with tackle and bait to shoe boxes and sporting gear, Catherine listens to the requests of her patrons and creates realistic tributes to their interests and hobbies. The biggest challenge she faces when making these works is getting each item to be exactly life-size. Because she abides by these parameters, she must carefully choose items to include. If someone was an equestrian for instance, she wouldn’t sculpt the horse, but rather a horseshoe or blue ribbons. Catherine makes several versions of the object before she settles on the final assortment. A self-proclaimed perfectionist, she enjoys the challenge of making things as true to life as possible.
While some of Catherine’s works seem specific to a time and place — a shopping bag from the streets of Paris, for instance — others have a timeless, romantic appeal. Her sculptures of fruits, farm fresh eggs, delicate macarons and juicy clementines are ubiquitous emblems of freshness, sweetness, abundance and life. With a profound attention to detail and patience in execution, Catherine’s masterful hand reminds us how the simplest of things can bring great joy and satisfaction. Her objects transport us away from the here and now into the life of another. Generating a narrative in the most visually captivating ways, Catherine is a storyteller in the finest sense of the word.
A special thanks to Catherine for sharing her work with us. Catherine lives in Nashville, TN, and works out of a large artist co-op called The Clay Lady’s Studio. Today’s beautiful images are courtesy of cathymoberg.com.