Cathleen Marie Thérèse Parra is a photographer living in Jersey City, NJ. She has studied Photography & Media Arts at Parsons The New School For Design in New York City and New Jersey City University in Jersey City, NJ. Her work deals heavily with gender roles, female sexuality, what is deemed as social or sexual norms, childhood, and the media/ our perception of media as children in forming the adults we become, much drawn from her experience. She has explored these topics through the mediums of photography, video art, interactive installation and mixed media, exhibiting work throughout the country and internationally. In 2013 she had her first exhibit overseas as part of the 'Now You See it Now You Don't' group show at Terrace Studio & Gallery in London.
The Arts Guild New Jersey nominated Cathleen as October 2014 Artist of the Month for her on going project 'The Childhood Series', which also traveled to North Seattle Community College, Seattle, WA, The Catskills Art Society, Catskills, NY and The Chicago Photography Center, Chicago, IL. She has also worked in Jersey City, NJ on an installation for Sustainable Jersey City's Rain Garden Campaign, grant funded by Dodge. In 2015 Cathleen participated in Gaia Studio's Wonder Women artist residency, in which she created, 'Osmosis', a video installation on the theme of super food & fetishism. The project opened at Gallery Aferro in Newark, NJ and has since been screened at Roadside Attractions art space in Toronto Canada. The piece has also been performed as a live piece at the Gateway Project in Newark, NJ. In addition to her fine art work she has written articles for Posture Magazine and worked on music video sets managing production design. In 2012 Cathleen worked as production design manager for Assorted Animals music video for 'Skeleton Army'.
The video won Best Over All Music Video at the Astoria Screening Festival in Astoria, NY and Audience Choice Award for Best Music Video at The New Hope Film Festival New Hope, PA.
Lego Project Statement
Through out this project I interacted with models that have had sexual experiences in public outdoor spaces. This series forced the models and therefore forces the viewer to confront behavior that is usually hidden for fear of one being considered a sexual deviant. I consider the act of sex in a public and/or outdoor space to be a common, although lesser form of exhibitionism. It is something a majority of people have done, but don’t normally disclose. Censorship and the proscribed sexual norms that are engrained in our heads from childhood are the foundation of this project.
I was also aware of media representation of gender when I framed each shot. In the film industry, the most dismal rating for a film is an NC-17 rating. This rating surpasses the R rating. Once a film is rated NC -17, its promotional outlets are limited, if at all existent. Films that depict or reference certain aspects of the female orgasm are more likely to receive this rating. Meanwhile the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) is more lenient in portraying or referencing male sexuality and/or nudity.
On the MPAA website the NC -17 rating is defined as “in the view of the Rating Board, most parents would consider patently too adult for their children… rating can be based on violence, sex, aberrational behavior”. Ultimately this inspired me to frame my images of women from the waist up while keeping males framed from the waist down. The Lego genitalia replicas worn by each model addresses the pixilation of body parts that is often rendered in television. Using Legos as a material was a playful way for me to reference our culture’s relationship to censorship, and our own body, beginning in childhood.