Piece of Work

Catherine McMillan's series "Luminarias" consists of paired photographs of a dress and a monarch butterfly, and while they appear to share no connection, the light in these photographs transports the viewer to another realm, a realm of memory filled with loss, instability, and unfilled desires.

Piece of Work


Photographs by Catherine McMillan
Piece of Work

in "Wander, Explore & Find"

through March 28 at the Gallery at Guadalupe Arts Center

Essentially two projects that Catherine McMillan merged into one, "Luminarias" consists of a series of paired photographs: one depicting a dress and the other a monarch butterfly. Although simple in conception, the result is anything but ordinary.

What makes this series so intriguing is the virtual absence of human life. The only evidence of the body is the sliver of a child's hand, barely visible in several of the butterfly photographs. Yet while the human body is literally absent, its presence is felt twicefold, particularly in the ethereal dresses, which seem alive despite their emptiness.

Floating weightlessly through space, each of the dresses provides a startling contrast to the butterfly photographs underneath them. Photographed with infrared film from a crop of butterflies that McMillan raised in her own home, the butterfly, in many of the photographs, almost appears drawn. The blurriness of these butterflies adds to the work's uncertainty. One wants to find a connection between the dresses and butterflies, but none readily appears. Instead, both the dresses and butterflies just hover in space, drawing you in by their sheer physical beauty. Practically casting a spell, the light in these photographs also serves to transport the viewer to another realm, a place filled with loss, instability, and unfilled desires. In short, they are like memories, always present yet always beyond grasp. While these images will haunt you, don't linger in seeing them; they are on view for just a short while longer in the Gallery at Guadalupe Arts Center.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More by Erina Duganne
Piece of Work
Piece of Work
Consisting of a vintage dental cabinet, two scrolls of paper, and a tree-painted background, Celia Alvarez Muñoz's installation "Stories Your Mother Never Told You" is an interactive tour de force that touches on those very issues central to Muñoz's artmaking practice: memory, personal identity, and community.

April 11, 2003

His Shadow in the Frame
His Shadow in the Frame
Robert Frank's photographs reveal his personal response to the world

March 28, 2003


Luminarias, Catherine McMillan, Wander, Explore & Find, The Gallery at Guadalupe Arts Center

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle