Surrounded by the aroma of Belgian waffles at Maison Mathis on Elm Street, artist Catherine Monahon is waiting patiently for me to arrive. She has just completed her work day at Squash Haven, a youth after school program. As we sipped our tea we began chatting about work and art.
“I love working with communities,” she says, “I connect and learn so much from my job here.”
Catherine’s role at Squash Haven includes everything from handling social media to teaching literacy to 5th and 6th grade students. However, during spring break she was able to change her normal routine and bring the students to the Yale University Art Gallery. Determined to make the visit both educational and fun, she borrowed over a dozen art books from the New Haven Free Public Library to prepare the students for their visit.
“I love making and teaching art.” She added, “I introduced them to basic art vocabulary, showed them male and female artists, and then they created their own work.”
Though Catherine’s work with Squash Haven is certainly inspiring, it was her artwork that initiated the meeting. Just last week she launched her personal website that features artwork and community involvement. The site also features the TODAY Book which is an inspirational mini self-help book inspired by Catherine’s thoughts. The thoughtfully written 5 minute read will change the way you think. Seriously.
In addition to providing a look inside her artwork Catherine also announced her decision to pursue art in Oakland, California. She plans to deepen her Squash Haven community skills and apply it to art. Her engaging art dreams include everything from creating a mobile art bus and a host of other community art projects.
There is something special about Catherine’s drive. Her love for inclusive art experiences and courage to pursue a new life on the west coast should inspire artists everywhere. To stay on track mentally all she has to do is apply the skills from her TODAY Book and everything should work out fine. Best of luck!
To learn more about Catherine visit her site here.
Article by Stephen Grant, Communications Manager at The Arts Council of Greater New Haven