Cat Hellxia is the kind of artist that it’s refreshing to meet – passionate about her work, aware of the world around her, and still open to what it has to offer. My research turned up a great mix of work from this artist, and actually corresponding with her revealed a genuinely enthusiastic and likeable individual behind the stellar artwork.
Working locally, Cat uses traditional and digital art to explore the dynamics of gender, race, and other public and personal issues. Born first generation in Canada and raised in Silicon Valley, she identifies as Chinese Canadian American, and has drawn inspiration from her experiences growing up in American society. Her work shows respect for, as well as distress over, the realities of living in America as an Asian woman. Generalization, a series featuring Cat’s art, deals heavily with these issues, as does much of her artwork. Still, Cat doesn’t seem to want her art to be seen as the kind of thing that requires lofty ideals and formal education to appreciate.
“I just want to make art that is therapeutic for me and maybe has some political message for other people,” she explained. She believes anyone can do art, “they just need the passion and dedication to practice, honing their skills, and getting inspired.” This attitude makes her art very accessible while still holding true to her own inspirations and concerns with social issues.
Cat received a degree in studio art at Sacramento State University, with a minor in business administration. She majored in accounting for three years prior before “deciding that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life rich and miserable in a cubicle.” Of course, there has been time spent in cubicles, but Cat is an active part of the Sacramento art scene. She co-founded an art collective called ArtC (sacartc on facebook and twitter) which “strives for the continuation of art making, art activism, and creating community with creativity.” Cat has also had a hand in supporting 350 Sacramento, and says Sacramento has been a great experience for her and her art in terms of opportunities and connections made.
Collaboration and community has clearly had a great effect on Cat’s artistic world, with a laundry list of inspirations including work by Ai Weiwei, Koren Shadmi, Lorena Alvarez, Jason Sho Green, Sam Wolfe Connelly, as well as fellow artists and students. Her style is influenced by an early love of Japanese anime and manga, but her work is so varied across mediums and topics that it is difficult to describe it as anything but all-inclusive. Perhaps that is an appropriate description, given Cat has said she prefers to work with whatever she creates, even mistakes, with no real preference for one medium over another.
Her advice for aspiring artists boils down to two things: Practice and community. “Practice. Sketch once a day, it doesn’t matter what. Work in the presence of other artists. Collaborate with other artists. Take a bunch of classes in drawing, painting, sculpture, jewelry making, woodcraft, printmaking, etc. See what you like.”
Cat Hellxia recently returned from a trip to China and is now selling stickers and other work at http://hellxia.storenvy.com/ and taking commissions. You can find her on facebook, twitter, and tumblr, as well as at her website http://hellxia.com
Photos provided by Cat Hellxia