Dr. Cat Pausé Memorial Fat Art Exhibition
To honor the memory of Dr. Cat Pausé on the first anniversary of her passing, Square Edge Community Arts in Palmerston North, New Zealand is hosting a memorial exhibition of Dr. Pausé’s collection of works by photographer Substantia Jones. (That’s me.)
Dr. Caitlin “Cat” Pausé was a globally respected American-born scholar, lecturer, writer, and for more than a decade, host of the MPR radio show, Friend of Marilyn. She was also my beloved friend. Cat’s work included labour and immigration rights, but her primary field was that of Fat Studies. The photographs in this exhibition are from the Fat Liberation photo-activism campaign, The Adipositivity Project, home to 800+ images of people who are unapologetically fat, defiantly pushing back against sizeist bigotry by proudly baring their bodies to be respectfully, lovingly captured by my camera. The several dozen to be exhibited were “essenced” down from that 800+ by Dr. Pause, herself, as this was her private collection. It hung in her Palmerston North home and in her office at Massey University, where she once told me faculty and staff would often come to peruse them, as if in a museum. She liked that.
When you look at these portraits, I hope you’ll see not only the demand for justice and equality, but also the humanity of those gazing back at you from their homes, haunts, and hilltops across the globe. (Including right there in Palmy.) But more than that, I hope these images will make you think of Dr. Pausé, on this first anniversary of her passing. I hope you’ll ponder the profound impact of her work, the immeasurable reach of her voice, and her endlessly loving spirit. All of which live on.
I’ll be there for the opening, but I’ll be flattened onto the screen in Square Edge’s theater, with a welcome, an exhibition overview, and a few words about Cat. Our on-demand video plans for the gallery talk, to run through the duration of the exhibition, have been monkey-wrenched, as the equipment is no longer available to us. So I’m working on an alternate means of walking visitors through the collection, giving information about each piece, and in some cases, why Cat chose it. And as is often the case with post-snafu remedies, it’ll perhaps be better than the original plan. And globally accessible. As Kiwis are fond of saying, “sweet as.”
I’ve been part of a number of Cat’s memorials and tributes since her passing, and the academic publishing world will continue to honor her work for many lifetimes. But I believe seeing the images—the people—with which she chose to surround herself, both at home and at work, is a uniquely intimate way to more deeply get to know who she was.
If you’d like to chip in to help me cover the opening reception expenses (estimate pending) and the gallery’s $550 hanging fee, that’d help immeasurably. If there’s anything left in the bucket, it’ll go to the Adipositivity lens fund.
Many thanks in advance for your help in paying tribute to our beloved Dr. Cat Pausé, who North Starred her Fat Studies and Human Rights communities. And despite her sweet smile and sunshiny disposition, ended our conversations (as well as those with others, I’m told) with, “I love ya, you fat b**ch.”
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