Artist Profile: Catherine Hart
Jersey City, Hudson County
Based in Jersey City, Montclair-native Catherine Hart (b. 1979) is celebrated both for her infectious, inventive studio work and for her huge, tantalizing, community-driven outdoor murals.
Among her early influences she cites her father, a painter who inspired and nurtured her creative spirit. As a teenager, it was the public art that she came upon when visiting New York City that forever impacted her distinct visual language. A self-defined “mark maker,” she was mesmerized by New York City’s street art.
“Growing up in Montclair,” she recalls, “I always loved traveling into New York City. All the peeling posters and scrawls on the walls that greeted me fascinated me. I was drawn to it all—even the graffiti that I saw while riding the trains.”
A graduate of California College of the Arts, Catherine Hart has embraced at various stages in her art career a range of art-making—from stained glass to mixed media collages—all of which she continues to reinvent and hone in her studio. But it is her early mural-making experiences that she perceives as life-changing.
“In 2010 when I was living in Austin, a friend encouraged me to go large,” she recounts. “I painted the side of his warehouse and loved the experience so much that I knew I wanted to learn about mural-making.” Three years later, Catherine Hart served as an apprentice for two months on a community-based mural project in Waco, Texas. Following her apprenticeship, Catherine’s principal focus became collaborative mural-making, taking her as far as Thailand and Cambodia.
As co-director of the acclaimed Jersey City Mural Arts Youth Program, she works hands-on with local youth, mentoring them from concept development to mural production. And as co-founder of The YALL Art Project, a global venture that uses artistic expression to help children overcome the trauma of severe abuse, she continues to facilitate a range of art projects in communities and schools in need of art.
Hart credits her mural-making experiences as positively impacting her studio work. “What I create on the streets,” she explains, “is far more literal than what I do in my studio. But I find that I now incorporate more graphic elements into my studio work.”
Whether working alone in her studio or collaboratively on the streets, Catherine Hart is intent on affirming our shared humanity. And that, she suggests, is the principal power of art.
Catherine Hart is a featured artist in On and Off the Streets: Urban Art New Jersey.
Image Caption: Catherine Hart, New Life, Aerosol, 2021, 13 ½’ x 21’. Photo courtesy Rachel Fawn Alban