Fire & Steel: The Sculpture of Grace Cathey (Paperback)

Fire & Steel: The Sculpture of Grace Cathey Cover Image
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There are very few women sculptors who work with fabricated metal: cutting steel, welding, hammering, grinding, and shaping to create beautiful pieces both large and small. Cathey’s career developed in the western North Carolina, and her subject matter draws heavily on the fauna and flora of the Southern Appalachians. Rand-McNally’s Best of the Road lists her gallery on Depot Street in Waynesville as a landmark.

This book is a collaboration between Grace Cathey and distinguished historian Sara Evans (author, Carolina native, and seasonal resident). It introduces Grace, tells the story of how she came to metal art after years as a professional weaver and painter and how her work has grown and changed. It also describes some of the techniques, especially finishes and use of color, that draw on Cathey’s experience as a weaver, watercolor, and print artist.

Printed in full color and lushly illustrated throughout, Fire and Steel introduces readers to the full range of Grace Cathey’s work, from major pieces of public art installed on the main streets of Waynesville, Hendersonville, and the North Carolina Arboretum, to a variety of custom objects for homes and gardens, and even small pendants.

Professor William Hood at the New York University Institute of Fine Arts says of her work, “Grace Cathey shares a gift rare among artists. Her exacting craftsmanship coaxes metal into works of art that are alive with the likeness of graceful, vibrant, playful creatures. They delight the eye and light up the heart.” Lawrence J. Wheeler, director of the North Carolina Museum of Art, declares that Grace Cathey’s sculptures are “beautifully conceived, and brilliantly executed. Her integration of the natural world into her large formats is lyrical and lovely, not easy to achieve in such an unyielding material.”

Praise For…

Grace has been described as a force of nature and her metal sculpture is an expression of that. Lawrence J. Wheeler, director of the North Carolina Museum finds her integration of the natural world into her large formats is lyrical and lovely, not easy to achieve in such an unyielding material." Picture a 400-pound, 12-foot-long blooming metal dahlia and you get a sense of the scale and energy of Grace's work. But she's equally capable of delicate, intricate fabricated sculpture, such as a playful fox.

Garden designer Larry Ligo, long an admirer or Grace's work, responded to her new book, "If you're a serious gardener you'll want to own a copy of Grace Cathey's Fire & Steel [published in July 2013]. Even the best designed garden will be seriously lacking if it doesn't also possess a large dose of whimsy. And I can think of no better place to find such whimsy than in the delightful sculptures of Grace Cathey. Where else could you find a five-hundred-pound, five foot long steel toad whose textured, bumpy skin was produced by welding bolts, ball bearings, wires, washers, and nuts to his back?"

Trained first as a fiber artist, Grace spent 15 years as a weaver, but once she picked up a blowtorch in a welding class, she never went back. She started making garden stakes, then worked her way up to flora and fauna: animals such as frogs, roosters; twisting vines and flowers in bloom. Her functional garden features such as gates and trellises often feature an unexpected extra such as butterfly alight on a bloom or a lizard slinking up the side.

Grace's work is part of the permanent collection at the North Carolina

Arboretum and Chimney Rock State Park and has been exhibited at the United States Botanical Garden in Washington, DC and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh. Her large-scale public art has been included in both Hendersonville and Waynesville, North Carolina's Art on Main series. But you can see it any day at her gallery, housed in Historic Walker Service, an auto service center her husband's grandfather opened in the Frog Level area of Waynesville in 1928 or on her website at Both her gallery and her website offer copies of her new book, Fire and Steel: The Sculpture of Grace Cathey, co-authored with historian Sara M.Evans that explores both her evolution as an artist and 150 full colorphotos of her work.
Product Details
ISBN: 9780615821795
Publisher: Dahlia Books
Publication Date: May 1st, 2013
Pages: 115