Amy Casey: Headlong Towards a Precipice

March 17, 2024 - May 12, 2024

Amy Casey, “Euclid,” 6×6″, acrylic on panel, 2022.

About The Art

Amy Casey is the Butler’s choice for the CAN Triennial Exhibition Prize. She is a painter and a printmaker.

Casey resides in the Tremont neighborhood of Cleveland, which has definitely infiltrated her work, as you can see bits of it in her paintings. Most of the buildings she paints are real buildings, though sometimes altered.

Using images of buildings as stand-ins for human action and endeavor, Casey has made a large series of paintings that explores and exposes various mechanisms of catastrophe. In some images, piles of buildings are stacked so high, they begin to topple under their own weight. In others, they explode into the sky, or we find them lying wrecked and shattered into rubble. Some recent images show buildings more or less subsumed by floods and surrounded by oceans of water.

“My work frequently touches on or is driven by my anxiety and hopes for the world. Too much news! It weaves its way in. I think my work has long seen the world and our place in it as insecure.”

In some of her recent work, Casey has introduced images of nature, usually in the form of forest settings. In these pictures, her buildings engage in various ways with a world of tree stumps and rich foliage. The man-made structures are sometimes supported by nature, sometimes protected and sometimes overwhelmed. The presence of so many cleanly cut tree stumps also suggests the extent of damage that humans have wrought on nature.

Though the artist clearly sees the relationship of humans and nature as fraught, the picture she paints is not entirely unhopeful. In splendidly rich detail, she shows new life growing from the dead stumps, even as the human presence, in the form of buildings, finds new support.

“Seeing interesting things around me is a big motivator to make paintings. It feels like it raises the stakes in my paintings for me. That I’m holding my own community in my hands in a way.”​

Amy undertook an artist’s residency in Arteles, a town in rural Finland, in 2017. “It was a ‘mindfulness’ residency, and they took our phones and computers away from us,” she says. 

“There was nothing else to do but walk in the landscape. I’d been wandering in the forest and got lost for a couple of hours, and I realized that this was how I felt in the world—confused, not recognizing anything I thought I knew, with a low-level panic always just within reach and no idea of how to properly proceed. So the ideas of being lost and uncertain were themes I began thinking about a great deal.”

In a recent statement, Amy said:

“I have been working on a series of cityscapes of a sort—buildings wrenched out of an environment, strung together, flung about, and stacked together to build their own land. In the last few years, however, the buildings have started exploding, collapsing, or otherwise scattering, and their residents have been finding new ground. Nature has entered the paintings and begun a difficult negotiation with the buildings. In 2024, nature is on shakier ground than ever in a changing climate, and, though still inviting, nature is both under threat from us and threatening us in return. As we cycle through seemingly never-ending disasters from rising heat, I can’t help but admire and despair at the beautiful, terrible resilience and adaptive power (or obstinance) of humans and the environment. I try to balance catastrophe, adaptation, and recovery in my paintings. In this work I tried to present both things falling apart and potential escapes and new beginnings. I hope to achieve something disquieting but also joyful as a celebration of living in the world. I hope to bring imagery and paint together in a way that represents in part what it’s like to be alive in this overwhelming place and time.”

 Ms. Casey received her BFA in Painting from the Cleveland Institute of Art and attended the Yale Summer School of Art and Music. She is a two-time recipient of the Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award. Amy has gallery representation in Chicago and NYC and has had many solo and two-person exhibitions throughout the country. Her exhibition will be on view in the Davis Gallery.


CATEGORIES: Exhibition

DATE: March 17, 2024 - May 12, 2024

LOCATION: Davis Gallery

RECEPTION: March 17th, 2024 1:00pm—3:00pm

Selected Works


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