Caitlin Cary: Raleigh’s Renaissance Woman
Caitlin Cary is a modern-day Renaissance woman. She is well-known in the Triangle for her work as an alternative country musician. Lately, though, she has gained renown as a visual artist.
She describes herself as “an artist, singer, songwriter, violinist, and activist living in Raleigh, North Carolina,” according to a statement on her website.
Originally from Ohio, Cary moved to Raleigh in 1993 “to go to grad school in creative writing” at North Carolina State University.
“Never really expected to stay, but I’ve fallen quite in love with this place; firmly rooted is how I feel,” she confided.
For several years, Cary said, she focused only on Raleigh landmarks and buildings as subjects for her art.
She calls her style of visual art “Needle Prints.” She began using the technique of sewing fabric to paper, creating a collage, in 2013.
When asked about the inspiration for her Needle Prints, she stated, “Somehow it seemed very natural, and also very important, to document the landscape I live in, especially as I… was reeling at the rapid change that’s occurring as the area develops.”
Cary continued, “It occurred to me that the places that made Raleigh feel like Raleigh were disappearing and needed lots of kinds of documentation.”
In recent years, she has widened her focus to other areas around North Carolina.
“I enjoy brief day trips to take photos, and I like to talk to people about what buildings matter to them and why,” she said.
Lately, Cary has diversified her art by creating portraits in Needle Print, “mostly of musicians such as Doc Watson and Dolly Parton.”
She stated that much of the fabric she uses for her art (mostly upholstery samples and remnants) comes from interior designers and upholstery shops. She also shops at Scrap Exchange in Durham.
“I try very hard to upcycle whatever material I can; I use reclaimed frames and wood scraps for mounting, and 99% of the fabric is repurposed,” Cary said.
Her art has been featured at several venues around Raleigh, including Cameron Village Regional Library and the Miriam Preston Block Gallery (located in the municipal building).
In July 2015, Cary began a six-month residency at Artspace, a downtown Raleigh studio collective and arts education organization.
“I’ve gone on to become a tenant artist, and I share a wonderful studio space with my husband, Skillet Gilmore, who is a screen printer and graphic designer,” she states on her website.
“Artspace and my continuing studio practice there have been crucial to my professional and artistic development,” Cary revealed, when interviewed.
Regarding working with her husband, she said, “Skillet has a hand in several phases of my process. We have created several total collaborations, mostly when I snatch up one of his screen prints and add fabric and stitch to it.”
“A grand goal would be to have pieces acquired by the Gregg Museum of Art and Design, at NC State and the NCMA North Carolina Museum of Art,” Cary stated.
“It seems I’m being considered for a large retrospective show at the Asheville Art Museum, so I dearly hope that comes to fruition,” she said when asked about future goals for her art.
“I’m very lucky that the medium and process I am working in lend themselves to commissions… I feel really lucky to have struck on something that makes me so happy to create, and that seems to have appeal to a broad range of collectors,” she continued.
Images of Cary’s Needle Prints can be viewed at her website. While visiting the website, you can also explore her musical legacy. Cary is acclaimed as a singer/violinist for Whiskeytown and super-girl-group, Tres Chicas. She has also released an album of original protest music, as a member of the NC Music Love Army.