Catherine Hois: Artist and Teacher

Art Windsor-Essex
6 min readApr 3


By: Sarah Murphy

Catherine Hois is a former intern at Art-Windsor Essex as well as the artist for one of the current exhibitions: Disruptive Body. Catherine is a passionate and curious individual and uses her talents to run Wednesday Art Club at AWE, help organize and run other events in the studio, and create art such as the pieces displayed in her exhibition.

Going into art pieces, Catherine takes a mindset of problem-solving. She begins with a curiosity about something, and during her creation process, tries to work with it until it is a little bit more resolved. Her favourite part of being an artist is that there is always something to wonder or be curious about, and you never know how a piece will look until it’s finished.

Disruptive Body was Catherine’s thesis project at the end of her degree and is an exploration of the human body as a site where anxieties play out; and where power is contested and negotiated. It is the story of a body that has learned to reject itself, and what it takes to reconcile with those parts of ourselves that we have come to fear or loathe. Catherine draws on her own relationship with her body in hopes to connect with others through the mediums of sculpture and stop-motion video.

As such a personal exhibition, it is difficult to put such a big part of yourself on display. Catherine started talking openly about her struggles with an eating disorder and body dysmorphia shortly after high school, first on an anonymous Instagram account and eventually worked up to where she is now. Connecting with others about her struggles made and continues to make her feel less alone. Disruptive Body started as something more for herself, but as she realized how many people could relate to it, it also became for other people and a way to start a conversation about a topic that is not frequently talked about.

For Catherine, confidence was one of the hardest parts of putting the exhibition on display (artists are always their own worst critics!). However, she says the hardest part of the creation process was the stop-motion film as it was her first time using the medium herself. Her partner, Ratul Debnath helped photograph and edit the film and was a huge help sorting through the thousands and thousands of photos it took to make the piece what it is on display.

When people view her exhibition at the gallery, Catherine is open to everyone’s interpretations of her pieces and is especially excited to start more conversations about accepting people for who they are. “You don’t have to be beautiful, you don’t have to be ugly. You just have to be you.”

Catherine just received a grant from Canada’s Arts Council and is working with Ratul Debnath and her cousin, Christopher Campbell (a musician), to create a new stop-motion, strongly connected to this one, once again about a girl in a house, but this time less about the struggle and more about the growth. She creates these films to mirror the time that she’s in during creation. Her new stop-motion will be titled The Basement.

Make sure to check out Disruptive Body from March 14th to May 28th in the second floor gallery of AWE!

Catherine also runs Wednesday Art Club at the studio, which is a gathering of anyone who wants to collaborate and create. There is a different project every week and the goal is to give people a space to take a moment out of their busy everyday lives to just come and make art. It runs every Wednesday from 10am-12pm and from 1pm-3pm in the studio on the second floor of AWE.

Catherine finds inspiration for a new craft every week based on the materials she has at the gallery and projects she wants to try. One of the recent crafts was making paper, a process Catherine has always wanted to try! She says, “it’s about play, we want people to come and play. Whatever age they are, come learn something new and play!”

I sat down with Catherine for an interview to learn more about her roles as an artist and teacher:

SM: What is your favourite medium to work with?

CH: Probably the soft sculptures, those are my favourite things to make because they’re super accessible. I use a lot of different fabrics from home like bedsheets and my old clothes and then I can stuff them with whatever I want because no one will know what’s inside them! I can recycle anything, even Tupperware! Whatever I put inside them gives them a different look and texture.

Pageant of the Vulnerable (2022)
Pageant of the Vulnerable (2022)

SM: You also use video as one of your mediums in this exhibition; can you tell me a bit about your decision to use that?

CH: I started stop-motion when I was asked to help with a friend’s film; my friend Olivia Loccisano, she’s a filmmaker and we were in school around the same time, and she actually asked me to be the creative director for her film. So, that’s how I got to know stop-motion film. I also love any stop-motion film from my childhood. I think they’re so nostalgic yet kind of creepy, even though they don’t mean to be. I kind of like that edginess of stop-motion from movies like Coraline or the old Christmas stop-motions that I used to watch.

Heart House (2022)

SM: Was there anything specific that inspired you or motivated you to put it all together?

CH: I was really influenced by Yayoi Kusama and her work; she would make soft sculptures too, and she would cover an entire room with them and kind of subject herself to her biggest fears and her obsessions. One way to confront your fear or something that you’re struggling with is to just surround yourself with it and I think I was at a stage where I could do that. Before I never would’ve been able to expose that, but I was able to confront it and this is kind of my way of objecting to everything that I was subjected to as a kid when it comes to body image and things like that.

Accumulation №1 (1962)

SM: Can you tell me a bit about the creation process for these pieces?

CH: So, I never know what it’s going to look like when all of the pieces are together. I kind of curate to the space so I make smaller sculptures, some of them are on canvases and then some of them I just make as they are, as soft sculptures. If there’s kind of a step by step it would be:

1. I’ll have my big sheet or big piece of canvas and then I’ll use hot glue to bind it.

2. I stuff them with whatever I have, whether it be plastic bags or old clothing, things like that

3. I seal them, also with hot glue (hot glue is my friend!)

4. I paint them based off of my own complexion, my veins, my blushing, but also my insides; sometimes I’ll base pieces off of my external body but sometimes I’ll base them off of my internal.

5. I paint them all with acrylic paint and some of them have resin over them that gives them a slimy appearance like the inside of your body (something gross, that’s intentional), and some of them I leave without resin because I like the contrast.

SM: What is your favourite part about running Wednesday Art Club?

CH: The people I meet! I love meeting all of the people that come in. They usually don’t know what it is, they come in and they’re curious. I welcome them in, they come and sit, and I just love getting to know people and learning their stories. It’s really a place for connection; I feel really lucky!



Art Windsor-Essex

Art Windsor-Essex (AWE) is a non-profit public art gallery that uses the power of art to open hearts and minds to new ideas. Change happens here.