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CAIT WILL INSPIRE MANY KIDS DURING HER STAY

Through a collaboration between Northwest Passage and The St. Croix National Scenic Riverway Artist Cait Irwin will be spending the month of June on the banks of the Namekagon River as an Artist in Residence. Cait is a woman of many passions. She is an artist, entrepreneur, activist, environmentalist, author and visionary. Through the medium of mural painting, her expressed goal is to create “spaces that inspire”. She is also a published author of two books chronicling her fight with depression. Cait will be spending the month residing at the National Park Service’s Schaefer Cabin overlooking the Namekagon River. The Cabin, built in 1927 was recently restored through a cooperative initiative between Northwest Passage and the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway.

Cait will be travelling to Northwest Wisconsin from her home state of Iowa. However, as a graduate of Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, this will be a homecoming of sorts for her. While in residency, Cait will lead art workshops with residents of Northwest Passage and host events with the public. She will shape the kids’ work into four finished paintings reflecting the nature and wildness of the Namekagon and St. Croix Rivers. Under Cait’s mentorship Schaefer Cabin will surely become a “place that inspires” many.

This Artist in Residency is being made possible through a generous grant from the St. Croix Valley Foundation, The Wisconsin Arts Board and Eastern National. More about Cait can be found on her website at www.irwinartworks.com.

The following is written by a resident of Northwest Passage Prairieview after an interview with Cait.

“Cait Irwin is a professional mural artist who I got a chance to speak with and find out what inspires her. She also does Graphic Design, Fine Art, and Sculpture Cake Art. A mural artist is someone who paints art on building walls or in large displays. Cait is a very unique and inspiring woman. Ever since she was a child, she always knew it was her calling to be an artist. Cait says, “Art is the one thing I never doubted, I was always sure of it.” Cait wanted to do mural art because she loves to paint large spaces. She finds it challenging and loves how it makes her work hard. “Bigger is better”, and in this case bigger certainly is better for Cait.

In June, Cait will be coming to Northwest Passage to share her love of art. She had expressed to me how excited she was to meet us and was thrilled to be getting the opportunity to experience art with kids working on their mental health. When Cait was going through her teen years, she turned to art because it helped her cope with her depression.

At the age of 14, Cait started writing a book, Conquering the Beast Within, about her struggles with depression. The book was originally her journal and she needed a way to communicate in those dark times. Cait describes her journey in writing the book as “Emotional and very raw.” Her hopes in writing Conquering the Beast Within, is to reach out to teens struggling with depression and other mental health issues. Her book includes many paintings she did while she was struggling with depression. Many would think writing a book about personal experiences would make you feel vulnerable. But Cait got to a point where she was comfortable talking about depression. “It’s a sacrifice putting yourself out there. But if it means hearing someone say ‘I’m not alone’ and helping them, it’s worth the sacrifice.” In talking with Cait, I thought this was one of most inspiring things she said.

Cait has a big interest in animals and nature. One of her paintings, Grandmother Elephant, she painted because she wanted to show the idea of our life cycle. If you look at the photo you will see how the elephant is holding the egg. The egg signifies our birth, the roots represent how we grow. The elephant is our memory; the skull is merging into old age and the moon is death. I thought this was a very interesting and fascinating portrait.

I am excited to meet Cait. She is a very passionate and strong woman and I think she will inspire every person here, whether they are staff or a resident, in one way or another. Cait has already inspired me to use art to help me cope with my problems and to not be afraid to talk about them.”

Northwest Passage cares about the artistic growth of our kids. We invite artists to come in, as an artist in residence, to guide them on journeys of self-expression through the language of art.

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