Solo Exhibition by Caitlin Wallace-Rowland at Harrisburg District Library, Harrisburg, Illinois  |  Show runs from May 2 – June 23, 2023

Opening Reception & Artist Talk on Sunday, May 7th 2pm

It was October of 2019. I had recently had a baby, bought a house (in New Orleans), and my first fabric collection had just been released in stores – things I’d been working towards and dreaming about for years. Then my dad died suddenly of pancreatic cancer and the bottom fell completely out of my world. My dreams of what the future looked like were suddenly shattered. My own life in New Orleans (that I had built over 12 years) quickly came to a halt as I moved back to my hometown to take care of our 6-generation family farm in Southern Illinois. 

In many ways, this collection illustrates me processing grief – grieving the loss of my dad, of my family as I knew it, of the life of my own I had before he died, of the future I always thought we would have. It’s been a struggle to figure out what home means to me and what it feels and looks like. 

But I keep coming back to the light and shadow through the trees at sunset – the trees my dad planted that continue to produce oxygen for me to breathe long after his last breath on this earth. It’s like he still breathes over our family land, and us, through them. Each season here I’m surrounded by flowers – rhododendrons my dad planted and cared for, irises where my great-great grandparents’ original homeplace used to be – that continue to come up long after those that planted them are gone. Nothing lasts forever, our lifetimes have limits, and yet legacies are carried on. I’m so interested in the idea of legacy, one that isn’t about career or accomplishments or successes, but simply about what beauty we add to the natural world around us. And also of the power of combined lifetimes – the ability for goodness to hold and pass through generations.

I heard once that having children was like a river that flows through you, connecting you back to your ancestors and all those that have come before. I feel like my art, especially while working from my ancestral home, has been a river flowing out of me, capturing the places I, and those before me, have dedicated their lives to maintaining. Joy and sorrow, beauty and pain, they are always intertwined. We aren’t spared the bad, but we can choose to still see the beauty.

Other Available Paintings:

about the artist

Caitlin Wallace-Rowland grew up in Southern Illinois on land that has been passed down through her family for generations. Her childhood was saturated in both creation (running through the creek and climbing trees) and creating (painting, cooking, sewing). She’s spent much of her adult life in New Orleans and has been shaped by its vibrancy and joy. A city that has been through so much hardship, but still knows how to celebrate – it will forever impact the way she looks for beauty in the world, amidst sorrow and struggle. She now lives back on Womble Mountain, south of Harrisburg, on her family’s farm with her husband and two daughters. She believes her role as an artist and textile designer is to open her eyes, see and notice the beauty around her, and synthesize those experiences into tangible form. 

She has a B.A. in English and Studio Art (Painting) from Tulane University and an M.A. in Fibers (Textile Design/Print & Pattern) from The Savannah College of Art and Design. In addition to her work in fine art, she works as a fabric and textile designer for Dear Stella Fabrics and licenses her hand-painted surface pattern designs to be printed on products available at Target and HomeGoods/TJMaxx stores nationwide.