About Catherine Stewart
Originally from Windsor, Ontario, Catherine Mary Stewart has lived and worked as an artist in Vancouver for many years. She earned a BSc from the University of Toronto and a MFA from the University of British Columbia. Her artistic investigations, particularly of the past dozen years, relate visually and philosophically to the practices, aesthetics and history of science. Her work has won awards and been shown locally, nationally and internationally in group and solo exhibitions. Venues for solo exhibitions include the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences (2002) and the Glasgow Science Centre (2004). Her Colour of Courtship series was shown at Murray Edwards College, in conjunction with the Darwin Festival (2009).
Catherine's media of choice are photography and printmaking with a special interest in photo-etching which she has taught at Malaspina Printmakers in Vancouver and at print studios abroad. Most recently, the artist collaborated with fashion collectors Claus Jahnke and Ivan Sayers for the exhibition 'Invoking Venus: Feathers and Fashion' at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum at the University of British Columbia.
The Order of the Heavenly Spheres 
Multiple plate photo-ething
Donated by the artist 2005
The artist writes:
This print is part of a suite of multiple plate etchings entitled Copernican Notes, that had its beginning at the library of the University of British Columbia. When I opened a facsimile of the manuscript Opus Revolutionibus Caelestibus (1543) by Nicholaus Copernicus, I was immediately attracted to the penned Latin script, the hand drawn diagrams and the tables of celestial observations. As well, imperfections such as inkblots and the many corrections conveyed the presence of the writer in a personal way. My urge was to bring these ancient and exquisitely detailed pages to light in a new and different context.
For each print, I selected two pages from the text and reproduced them to size as photo-etchings. These I layered with photo-etchings of figures in motion made from photographs that I had taken of my teenaged daughter.
The transition from childhood to adulthood can be likened to a Copernican paradigm shift. During this phase of intellectual development, a child's view of reality changes from one centred on self, family and immediate surroundings to one which encompasses much, much more. Furthermore, as an adolescent's view of the universe expands, an awareness of his or her place in it changes as well. This gradual change in perspective can be seen to parallel the shift in Western consciousness that occurred when Copernicus established that the sun, not the earth, was the centre of planetary motion as had previously been believed.
The dual format of these prints is that of an open book. To further this association, I used the technique of chine-coll? whereby a second type of paper was introduced in the printing process. I selected a more delicate and warmly toned paper to replicate the texture and feel of the paper that might have been used for the original manuscript.
This body of work brings together a variety of influences in my life: my early studies in math and physics, the use of photography and printmaking in my artistic practice, my growing interest in the philosophy of science, and my experience as a parent. While contemporary techniques involving photopolymer film and digital imaging were used to make these etchings, they speak of an appreciation for the visual and tactile character of 'the written word'. They reflect the past and, at the same time, can be seen to acknowledge the participation of women in the sciences, now and in future generations.