PLATFORM 22: Cat Mazza, Taking the Cure

Cat Mazza is a mid-career artist whose work focuses on textiles and technology. She often works collaboratively, creating projects with strong social and political messages. With this original PLATFORM commission at deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Mazza expands her practice to create her first outdoor sculpture. With an interest in issues of convalescence and self-care, Mazza was inspired by nineteenth-century New England “cure cottages,” structures intended to rehabilitate urban workers suffering from tuberculosis. Her piece, Taking the Cure, channels the restorative powers of nature in a treatment space for today’s contemporary social ills.

While tuberculosis is an ancient disease, a major resurgence in the United States and Europe in the 1800s correlated to mass urbanization and industrialization. At this time, the only known cures for tuberculosis were fresh air and rest. To quarantine very contagious patients from Boston, the Massachusetts State Sanatoria established locations in the western part of the state, with a central house surrounded by small, makeshift cottages in remote natural settings. These shelters incorporated porches and large windows into their design, allowing patients to interact with the outside environment and promoting the healing powers of nature. Mazza refers to these features in her wooden latticework and the open, permeable walls, which allow the free flow of air and of visitors, who are encouraged to circulate and also to linger, soaking up the health benefits of fresh air and nature. DeCordova’s idyllic grounds provide the perfect setting for Taking the Cure. Surrounded by trees in the Sculpture Park, viewers are able to contemplate recuperation and engage with the history of curing examined by Mazza’s work and research.

On View at deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, July 20, 2018–July 01, 2019.

Cat Mazza (b. 1977, Washington, D.C.) earned a BFA from Carnegie Mellon University, where she specialized in Art and Gender Studies, and completed her MFA at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, concentrating in Electronic Arts. Mazza has exhibited at Garanti Gallery, Istanbul, Turkey; the Jönköpings läns Museum, Sweden; the Milwaukee Art Museum, Wisconsin; the Museum of Art and Design, New York; the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; and the Triennale Design Museum, Milan. She has also exhibited at new media festivals, including Ars Electronica, Linz, Austria; FILE, São Paulo, Brazil; Futuresonic, Manchester, England; and The Influencers, Barcelona. Mazza is currently Associate Professor of Art at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

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