On The Mend, sacred heart 2011
Birmingham industrial scrap iron cast-offs, junkyard wire,
expandable metal fragments and cotter pin
Private collection of Charlotte Culton
About the Artist
Catherine Partain Shamblin is a metal artist from Birmingham, Alabama. She spent most of her formative years in illustration and painting. In 2008, Catherine found God in the midst of a difficult divorce. She awoke one night to hear Him telling her very clearly to make a wooden cross. She was then led to learn to weld and to make many more crosses. She discovered that this process released her from much pain, leading her back to wholeness and community. Since that night, she makes crosses every day.
Now in her eighth year of welding scrap iron, Catherine has expanded the work to include other liturgical symbols, including crowns and sacred hearts. Her work is in private collections all over the world. Catherine's website is her testimony to surviving many hardships. She identifies with such southern outsider artists as Charlie Lucas and Howard Finster for their use of found objects and direct references to the Divine. Completely self-taught in the aesthetics of making art, she has put a lifetime of experience into her true calling, the metal arts. She stays centered through her scrapping for metal, an intimate practice she will always continue.
“I only use scrap iron to make my crosses. I rummage around and use natural disaster scrap, farm scrap, industrial scrap. I am delighted when I find scarred, rusted and pitted pieces, as they are most interesting to me for the process of telling a story. I find this a great metaphor for life; that we are never too scarred, too damaged or too far gone. We are used, right where we are, to tell a story much larger than our mistakes, to become more beautiful in all our imperfections. I think God wants the world to know that He loves us just as we are."
Catherine is currently working in her Birmingham, Alabama studio and can be reached at (205) 223-4362. Examples of her work can be viewed online at crossesbycatherine.com.