THIRD PLACE: Cat Coppenrath 'Autopsy Report'
L.A. Photo Curator: Global Photography Awards - 'Where Photography & Philanthropy Meet' THIRD PLACE:  Cat Coppenrath 'Autopsy Report' (Click on image for larger view)
AUTOPSY REPORT by Cat Coppenrath
(Click on image for larger view)

Review by curator Jane Szabo:
"Cat Coppenrath’s, Autopsy Report is such a simple yet chilling photograph. I was immediately struck by the simplicity of the presentation and the force of the image.

The envelope, which bulges at the seams, and its contents which were carefully tucked back in after reading, suggests one could cram the reality of the situation back in and pretend it never happened. Yet the owner chooses to hold on to this tragic memento for decades. How do you throw away the last vestiges of a loved one’s life, no matter how tragic?"
Cat Coppenrath says, "On March 13th, 1998, my half sister disappeared. She was found 4 days later near my grandparents house in Dedham, Massachusetts. My sister was 23 when she died. I was 8 years old.

This was my first close experience with death and an experience which colored much of my childhood. From this moment on, I would become very familiar with the concept of death and dying by attending wakes for family members who met the fate of old age and relatives who met the fate of cancer. I grieved my parent’s marriage as the death of my sister created great distance between them. I moved schools, left friends behind, and moved on as people, places, and things became a distant memory. As many people say, time heals all but - do these memories and experiences actually leave us?

When I was 8 is a personal photo documentary project which looks at my experience with death and dying from the perspective of my sister’s loss. All images created are of items inside of a box which has lived in the garage of my mother’s house for the past 20 years. I have looked through this box over the years when I seek understanding of my sister’s death. All of these items all have to do with her. Aside from memories and photographs, these are the things we have deemed important to remember, and also inside of this box, the painful things we may have chosen to forget.

My current work aims to look at life experience, memory, and process. Do we ever heal completely from loss? How do we choose to remember? What does it mean to really move on? Through projects focused on death, loss, and bereavement, I am exploring how this experience impacts personal wellbeing, family dynamics, and relationships through symbolic objects and memory.

My goal is to continue to explore this theme through future projects to normalize the universality and diversity of end of life, aging, death, and dying."

Cat Coppenrath (b. 1990), is a photographer, teaching artist, and social worker currently based in the San Diego / Tijuana, Mexico border region. After receiving her Masters of Social Work from New York University in 2015, Cat began to focus her career on the integration of social work, community arts, and photography.
Having over 6 years of experience working with underrepresented populations, Cat has worked primarily in social work settings and non-profit arts based organizations. With a strong interest in both written and visual narrative in the processing of experience, Cat has focused on expanding this work into the participatory realm. In her personal work, she is interested in exploring the power of the image in present day context, reframing what this image looks like and means in public spaces.
Thus far in 2018, Cat has exhibited personal work in various exhibitions including San Diego City College’s Women in Light exhibition and The Front Arte Cultura’s Dia De La Mujer exhibition where she won People’s Choice. Cat is currently a recipient of the California Arts Council’s Artist in Communities grant and has instructed various photography programs and workshops through organizations in San Diego including The AjA Project, A Reason to Survive, and The Burn Institute.

This year she has been the lead teaching artist on participatory exhibitions including Our Collective Truth: Examining Civil Liberties in America and Creative Action Against the School to Prison Pipeline, both collaborations with The AjA Project.
Born and raised in San Diego, Cat has both lived and worked in San Diego, San Francisco, New York City, and Tijuana, Mexico.

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