Cathy Abramson

Cathy Abramson
Dreams of the Underground: Paintings by Cathy Abramson
Margaret W. & Joseph L. Fisher Art Gallery
October 12, 2019 – December 23rd, 2019
Reception: October 19th, 2019 2-4PM

Artist Statement

Cathy Abramson’s oil paintings investigate the stories of the city. These representational paintings examine the emotional subtext of change; the connections or estrangement of people in transitional neighborhoods. She sees moments of poetry in the ordinary. Her paintings about daily life in Washington DC, showing particular people and scenes resonate with everyone.

The urban environment provides the literal setting for Cathy’s paintings but not the narrative. While painting for two years the neighborhood and people around Kennedy Street NW,  she listened carefully to the stories of each person. The scenes recorded are about recent history, change, nostalgia and social struggle; the joys and frustrations of contemporary urban life.

Cathy continues to explore the neighborhoods of the district and Bethesda and is fascinated by the more painterly aspects of her subject matter; the linear quality of buildings under construction and the effect of light and geometry on the built environment. She continues to paint people in the urban environment but is now more interested in imagining the stories of the people in their environment. What is the story of the young eastern European tourist in the revolving doors at the J. Edgar Hoover Building and what makes the dancer so pleased with herself at the Dupont Circle Underground? What is the woman in “Witness” actually seeing in the window reflections at Glenstone Museum? This time the viewer posits the narrative.


Although Cathy Abramson was born in a small city, Middletown, New York, her work concentrates on the urban environment. She maintains a studio at Artists & Makers Studios 1 in Rockville where in March 2017 she completed the three year Master Artists Program at the Compass Atelier. Her oil paintings have been exhibited in juried solo and group shows throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region for the past 25 years and she also has work in many pubic and private collections.

This past year, in 2019, she was awarded second place for “Cathedral” in the Fusion Art Competition, “Highways and Byways”. In addition her work was featured in two other online exhibits, HerStory, (2017, 2018, 2019) an international competition by Manhattan Arts International, and the second by SavvyPainter (2017) a popular artists’ podcast. In 2018 she was selected to paint a door for “The Doors of Make Room”. Her door was auctioned off at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in a fundraiser for a national housing advocacy group. This led to an interview about art and the housing crisis on WUSA9, a Washington, DC TV station. In addition, two paintings from the Kennedy Street body of work were purchased for the Washingtonia Collection by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (2017). In 2016 she was listed as a Finalist in the Portraits/Figures category of The Artist’s Magazine 33rd Annual Art Competition and her art has appeared on the Professional Artists website. In the same year her painting “Fast and Furious” was reproduced in a large scale format for an exhibition at BWI Airport in the gallery in the D/E Connector.

She spent most of her career working as Art Director for NOVA Research Company where she designed publications and exhibits for NIH. In 2005, she illustrated Wild Washington: Animal Sculptures A to Z, and in 1997, Simple Secrets of Parenting: Easy as ABC. For a number of years she co-owned Grapevine Graphics, a local graphic design from. She began her career in graphic design and editorial illustration, working as the art director for The Washington Monthly, a political magazine.

To learn more about Cathy’s work follow her online at and on her Instagram at @cathya_email.