Eagles in the Spotlight

Catrine B. ’02, The Riverside School

Finding Balance through Art

Catrine B. never imagined herself attending an English-speaking school or developing such an interest in painting. As life would have it, she’d learn this and more during the six years she attended The Riverside School before furthering her education in New York, London and Zurich.

In 1996 as Catrine was preparing to start secondary school, her Montessori primary education best prepared her for the curriculum of The Riverside School – except that she didn’t speak English. “One thing I gained from attending Riverside was that I learned English and gained a lot of confidence. The school was really great at focusing on each student’s individual talent and nurturing that. I will never forget that about Riverside,” Catrine shares.


Memories of Riverside

While she was on the volleyball team, Catrine found that dance suit her better. “I spent a lot of time on the substitute bench in volleyball, but I think I did pretty good in dance. We did quite a few shows with Ms Gavard and even with some boys! They were made to join as they had to take at least one art class, so they chose dance. Now that was fun!”

Ski trips and Halloween parties are some of the fondest memories Catrine has of Riverside. She tells of a time when “for Halloween, my boyfriend at the time and I dressed as two old men. We wore his dad’s suits and masks. It took a while before people knew who we were!” She especially remembers her time with Ms Hummel, Mr Stillmann, Mr Kinneburg’s photography class and hiking with Madam Gavard and Mr Lourdet. “Once we did a beautiful hike in Alsace. It was my birthday and everyone pretended to have forgotten. No one even wished me a happy birthday. I was so mad! But then suddenly, during the bus ride back home we stopped at a carnival and they all yelled ‘Surprise!’ I was really blown away!”


Off to New York

When Catrine left quiet Central Switzerland to study in America, she was convinced that the dance programme at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA was for her. “Many times, I would find myself staying up all night to paint. It finally hit me that painting was what I wanted to do, not dance.” With some quick work, Catrine was able to apply for and was accepted by Parsons in New York City. She thrived working collaboratively with her student cohort and learning technic from teachers. It was more than just being an artist, but learning real skill and technic behind the art. After getting her Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in 2007, Catrine stayed in New York doing freelance graphic design work and being an assistant at HiArt Kids. With the encouragement of some of her Parsons contacts, she stayed active with her art and prepared for a move to London.






Next stop: London

Enrolled in the Master’s of Fine Arts programme at Central Saint Martins, Catrine was part of several artist-ran studios. “The scene was different than in New York. People shared studios, but worked behind closed doors. It was as if they were worried someone would steal their ideas.” She left her studio at the Tannery Arts in Bermondsey and moved back home to Switzerland for work, family and love.






Happy in Luzern with her own studio

In her studio in Meggen, Catrine creates paintings in her signature abstract style under the name Catrine Bak (a family name). “The shapes, colours, composition and balance of my pieces has varied as I have moved around. Someone recently commented that it has a more ‘landscape’ feel to it – maybe the influence of the beautiful Swiss views?” she says with a smile, “But really, I feel it is like cooking without a recipe. Some pieces I even set aside only to touch up years later before I feel they are finished.”


Helping others to create masterpieces

In the same space as her studio, Catrine offers open and private art sessions for children and adults. “We paint, we learn about the process of art, we freely create, we work through issues using art as a vehicle.” As Catrine speaks English, Danish and German, she offers a lot of options! Rather than assigning projects, Catrine encourages the painters to freely discover using watercolours, collage, acrylic, etc. She has all the supplies needed and the space to make a mess.  “It’s been great using painting to get people conversing. I had a couple in a while ago who, their words, enjoyed a ‘two-hour holiday’ painting while sorting through some issues in the process. I’ve had families book sessions to create a piece of art together for their new home or as a gift to grandparents.”


Looking to the future

While Catrine’s art has taken her lots of places, one place remains a big goal – showing at the Louisiana Museum in Denmark. “It is a very beautiful museum and would be an honor to have my art exhibited there! This goal keeps me focused on why I do what I do.” In the meantime, her art is for sale on her website, she accepts offers to show her art in galleries and is available to commission paintings.


See more from Catrine on her studio’s Instagram and her atelier’s Instagram and Facebook.

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