Today’s post shifts the blog’s focus from photography to art and follows a trail of discovery down a rabbit hole to an exotic new world. How come? Well, it’s all thanks to the Cat Writers’ Association (CWA) and the Tarot of the Cat People.
Let me explain about a serendipitous discovery and the surprise it gave me.
The CWA Muse® Medallion
The stylish Muse was designed by artist Karen Kuykendall. It is elegant and simple with the figure of a curled up cat looking out at us.
I could have left it at whoops of joy at winning a Muse, and celebrating with the good wishes of friends. I have finally achieved one of my dreams, being a Muse winner. But another surprise awaited me.
I have a small and very cute china collection that has been housed in a cramped space and I have been looking for a unit that will allow me to display it since we moved to New Zealand. I finally found one!
- Let me tell you what happened next!
The Outer Regions
As I took the ornaments from their shelf getting them ready for their new home, I saw a small box.
I was puzzled because I didn’t recognise it. Until I picked it up and remembered why it had been put in a dark corner. It had been an exciting prize from a Twitter pawty fundraiser and I had wanted to keep it undamaged, away from New Zealand’s very strong sunlight.
Now I had rediscovered its safe hiding place, I noted the title and the name of the artist. The Tarot of the Cat People by Karen Kuykendall. Oh wow! This is the same artist who designed the Muse I had been so happy to win.
I had to find out more about this artist so I began to explore and this is what I found out about the Tarot of the Cat People and the artist who created the Cat Writers’ Association Muse.
The Cat People Tarot deck is a powerful blend of symbolism and the imagery of science fiction and fantasy, using elaborate design and cats to enhance the symbolism of each card. 64 page book included. 78 cards. Card stack is 4 5/8″ x 2 5/8″ x 1″Cat Tarot
Karen Kuykendall, Artist
I explored several online biographies and discovered that Karen Kuykendall, a native of San Diego, was a versatile artist who, amongst other things, designed furniture for the Jamestown Lounge Furniture Company.
She also taught art in Arizona’s public schools and at the University of Arizona. I visited Arizona for the 2016 Blogpaws® conference, I was thrilled that I had visited the state where she spent so much time.
Karen Kuykendall was a published author, and participated in and judged art shows. Her paintings, jewellery and papier-mache have been exhibited at both the Phoenix Art Museum and the Tucson Art Museum.
In the mid-sixties she worked for the Casa Grande Dispatch as the only female editorial cartoonist in America.
Tarot of the Cat People
I have several tarot decks. Not because I read the cards (that takes skill). I love the ingenuity and inspired design of artists who work with a theme on what can be a huge creative project. The Bohemian Cat Tarot from Magic Realist Press now goes for totally unreal prices, thankfully the Cat Tarot has a more realistic price point.
Unlike modern designers, who often work with computers and tablets, Karen Kuykendall painted each of the tarot cards on artist’s board 9.5 by 15.5 ins. (24 x 39 cms). The unique backgrounds are hand speckled and each card features an elaborately painted figure and at least one cat. There are 79 cards in total.
The figures, seen from a 2020 perspective, are a balance of classic 1980’s shapes and colours, and surprising contemporary resonances. Gorgeous flowing costumes are embellished with elaborate architectural jewellery and the range of skin tones defies stereotypes, embracing many different ethnicities around the globe.
The figures inhabit a world called ‘The Outer Regions’. Like all good fantasy worlds, this one is highly detailed and very believable. Cats play a big part in its traditions and stories (as seen on the tarot cards). The small book with the Tarot set gives glimpses of the intriguing world and its complex structure.
Written with Andre Norton the books ‘Mark of the Cat’ and sequel ‘Year of the Rat’ take place in these Outer Regions. The two are often sold as a single volume.
The Outer Regions are conceived as existing in a parallel universe, a very magical place divided into six kingdoms that are represented by various precious gemstones that serve as the defining emblems for each ecologically distinct territorial entity.Rambles
- NOTE: The book is available in Kindle and paperback format.
I also discovered the perfect introduction to the Tarot of the Cat People deck on YouTube. I hope you are able to see the slideshow. (Link here) It is from a French site and the slideshow has a simple soundtrack.
If you are a winner or aspire to the heights of achieving the Cat Writers’ Association’s most coveted award – the Muse, I hope that you have enjoyed discovering more about the artist who created it – Karen Kuykendall.
One last tidbit to enjoy? Karen lived in the Arizona desert with 10 cats. I don’t feel quite to bad having more than a handful in my clowder now.