Kathy Curtis Cahill

Growing up in a working class family in upstate New York, I was always interested in the magic of photography. At a young age I took over the job of family historian with my first Kodak Brownie camera. I majored in art in high school and college, with photography as part of both curriculums, so was able to learn how to shoot from the ground up, particularly enjoying the dark room experience.
After earning my degree in art education, I moved to Los Angeles and became involved in the entertainment industry as a Set Decorator. I worked for over 30 years in this capacity, in commercials, music videos, independent films, and eventually, television series. I garnered an Emmy Nomination in 2001 for my work on the CBs series “Judging Amy,” and ended my career after six years ABC’s “Criminal Minds”.
I had to learn many skills in order to execute the task of transforming empty sets to realistic living environments. I began using my own photographs as set dressing to avoid clearance issues. I learned to photograph many diferent subjects and built a large inventory of photographs, eventually starting a website to license them to other television and film productions.
After retiring from Set Decorating in 2011, I began pursuing photography full time, taking classes and moving into the world of fine art photography. My interests was primarily in night photography, with an emphasis on store window displays and mannequins, seeing in them small sets that tell a story in much the same way decorating sets did, only ones that tell a story of fantasy, culture and commerce. I like shooting after the stores are closed, both because the lighting is better, and because the deserted streets add to the atmosphere of “otherness” to my work, unmarred by real human beings.
My interests are varied, and I continue to widen my photographic themes. I completed two bodies of work based on my childhood memories, using old style composition dolls as stand ins for real children. I have had 2 solo shows with this work in Los Angeles.

Artist’s Statement

Childhood Matters
Childhood is a very fragile and important time in the development of a human being.
Everything that happens in early childhood matters. It is a combination of good and bad experiences, that help form the child into the adult they become.
When adults reminisce about their childhood, it is often a combination of these two polar opposite experiences that stand out most clearly. Dressing up in a costume and pretending to be a superhero, or playing with a treasured toy often received as a birthday or Christmas gift, are often their happiest memories. Any traumatic experience, whether at home or school, is often the painful, embarrassing memory, still fresh after many years. There may not leave physical scars, but the internal ones are surely there.
My current bodies of work capture these moments, both good and bad, that make up everyone’s childhood memories. I use dolls as stand-ins for children, posed in situations reminiscent of childhood experiences. I want to engage the viewers to fill in their own stories, and to raise their awareness of how important and long lasting childhood experiences are.