Catherine Pena: New Director of Beverly & Sam Ross Gallery

Cat PenaCatherine “Cat” Peña was hired to serve as the Director of the Beverly & Sam Ross Gallery at Christian Brothers University. At the time of her hire, she was the subject of a “Memphis Newsmakers” profile in The Daily News. In the article, Cat states she wants “to create a gallery atmosphere that encourages experimentation while focusing on contemporary artistic practices and theory to inspire our young thinkers and makers.”

In support of that mission, and in partnership with our Visual and Performing Arts Department, Cat introduced Lunch and Learns with artists who exhibit in the gallery. The events afford CBU’s students the opportunity to gain greater insights into various creative processes and the business of being a working artist. This semester students met New Orleans painter Terry Kenney, and local artists Chuck Johnson and Jimmy Crosthwait. Exhibiting artists next semester include Niles Wallace, Claudia Tullos-Leonard, and Cindy McMillion.

Artist Jimmy Crosthwait addresses students at a Lunch & Learn in the  Ross Gallery.

Artist Jimmy Crosthwait addresses students at a Lunch & Learn in the Ross Gallery.

Cat has also been busy outside of CBU. She is currently the Memphis Medical District Collaborative’s resident artist and is working on streetscaping plans for the Manassas street corridor in the Medical District. She and her husband, Professor Nick Peña, collaborated on two of the creative crosswalks: at Madison/Manassas and the midway crosswalk at Health Sciences Park. The two designs play off many of Nick’s geometric patterns found in his current body of work, some of which is now hanging permanently in the Rosa Deal School of Arts building. The project should be completed sometime in February, 2018.

Art Race Violence 2Cat is also one of the artists participating in the Crosstown Arts exhibition titled, Art/Race/Violence: A Collaborative Response. The exhibit is a multi-disciplinary project organized by visual culture historian Dr. Earnestine Jenkins and artist Richard Lou, in collaboration with Crosstown Arts. Through this project, local artists collectively explore intersections of race and systemic violence through the lens of cultural expression. The participants attended a series of workshops and panel discussions, and were given access to a wide array of resources, articles, and media for their research. The eight artist teams — including Cat Peña and Jamond Bullock — have created new installations, which will be on view in Crosstown Arts’ new galleries at Crosstown Concourse through January 14. Yancy Villa (’99) is also included in the exhibition, partnered with Lawrence Matthews.