On the Cover: Becky Todd | Visual Art | Hudson Valley | Hudson Valley; Chronogram
Pin It
Favorite

On the Cover: Becky Todd 

click to enlarge Cosmic Chrono Cat, Becky Todd, Digital Construction, 2013. Cover design by Jaclyn Murray.
  • Cosmic Chrono Cat, Becky Todd, Digital Construction, 2013. Cover design by Jaclyn Murray.

The 1990s brought us the World Wide Web, revolutionizing the parameters of human communication and discovery. The 21st century has ushered us into a new phase of electronic evolution. We are in the cultural moment of the meme—specifically, the cat meme.

Since the early 2000s, cats have been the subject of digitally constructed images that are widely shared over the Internet. These memes, popularized by the website LOLcats in 2006, generally include humorous commentary on the cat's depicted stance or expression. The cat meme's development has spawned such serial gems as Hipster Kitty, Lenin Cat, and Cat Breading, which features pictures of cats with slices of bread around their necks. Last summer, there was even a film festival devoted to Internet cat videos held at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.

The phenomenon is difficult to wrap your head around—at once absurd and oddly compelling. To reference a famous cat lover (T. S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats often gets lost in the shadow of The Waste Land), we are led—like the lonesome Prufrock—to an overwhelming question: Just what is it about cats? Retired elementary art teacher Becky Todd's response comes in the form of her Cosmic Cat series.

A film by Stephen Blauweiss, produced by ArtistFilmDocs.

"I can understand why cats are in temples," says Todd. "There is a sort of metaphysical association with cats and felineness." The 12 digital constructions in Todd's series depict photographs of cats—which she took at the Peace Plantation Animal Sanctuary in Walton—set against themed cosmic backgrounds. A white kitten poised on a shelf in the sanctuary inspired her image Zen Cat. "She was sitting there so fabulously," Todd says. "There were 500 cats in this place, and she was so Zen." The Cosmic Cat series evolved from one of Todd's earlier projects, where she created vignettes based on characters from books. "I would look, for example, at little shell creatures with googly eyes, and would create an environment for them that seemed like the right place for them to live," Todd says. "When I saw the [Zen] cat, she informed me of where she was ideally. She wasn't physically in a Zen environment, but I imagined that she was in her mind."

The image on this month's cover was designed with Chronogram in mind, inspired by Randal Roberts's Portrait of Homer Simpson from our August 2009 cover. "It was always my favorite cover," says Todd. "I loved the use of spiritual ideas combined with this commercial icon." Todd, who works in a variety of artistic styles, says her Cosmic Cat series is her favorite, partly because of this marrying of the transcendent and the commonplace, and partly because it calls back to her time as a teacher making art with children. "These images have that same intention of playfulness and wonder," Todd says. "It's from the most playful and fun part of myself."

Todd is a member of the Catskill Mountain Artisans Guild, which just opened a second gallery space in Delhi (in addition to the cooperative gallery in Margaretville). Todd plans to display and sell original work at the Delhi gallery, including pieces from her Cosmic Cat series. Catsguild.org.

Speaking of...

  • On the Cover: Abshalom Jac Lahav
  • On the Cover: Abshalom Jac Lahav

    Lahav's paintings employ feature well-known images of the famous in new contexts.
    • Oct 1, 2013
  • On the Cover: Michael X. Rose
  • On the Cover: Michael X. Rose

    Michael X. Rose's painting, "Yeti Throws My Great Grandfather from Mount Washington, British Columbia, 1913," is on the cover this month.
    • Oct 1, 2012
  • On the Cover: Susan Wides
  • On the Cover: Susan Wides

    Susan Wides's photographs expose the cracks in the idealized landscapes of Hudson River School paintings.
    • Sep 1, 2012
  • More »
Pin It
Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

Hudson Valley Events

submit event
Documentary Film: Tomorrow @ Julia L. Butterfield Memorial Library

Documentary Film: Tomorrow

Tue., Sept. 26, 7 p.m. — Co-Director Cyril Dion states we wanted to show how local initiatives, strong...
Tomorrow @ Julia L. Butterfield Memorial Library

Tomorrow

Tue., Sept. 26, 7-9 p.m. — The French documentary film, "Tomorrow" offers real solutions to many of the...

View all of today's events

Latest in Visual Art

  • Olana, with The Ancram Opera House, presents an original play in landscape
  • Olana, with The Ancram Opera House, presents an original play in landscape

    Performing Olana: Frederic Church living his art Olana and Ancram Opera House collaborate to produce a theater performance specifically created to take place in the landscape of the historic site. The dramatic work draws inspiration from Frederic Church’s paintings, letters, family life and the celebrated landscape and is presented as an immersive theater experience in which performer and audience journey together into Church's art. FRI 6PM | SAT 2PM, 4PM, 6PM | SUN 2PM, 4PM, 6PM Member: $10, Non-Member: $15, Family (up to 5): $40
    • Sep 21, 2017
  • Fall for Art, Juried Art Show, Sale & Fundraising Reception
  • Fall for Art, Juried Art Show, Sale & Fundraising Reception

    Fall for Art, a juried art show, sale and fundraising reception (hosted by the Jewish Federation of Ulster County) Thursday, September 7th at The Chateau in Kingston, 5:00-9:00 pm, features 29 area artists. Reservations: ($45 p/p) at www.fallforart.org, or 845-338-8131.
    • Sep 7, 2017
  • More »

Related to Visual Art

More by Jennifer Gutman

Hudson Valley Tweets