Catherine Haley Epstein
Artist | Writer | Scent Maker

Invisible Permission

Catherine Haley Epstein

Invisible Permission | An Exercise in Radical Listening

This is the fourth installation on my work on the myth of Psyche. It correlates to Psyche’s task where she must retrieve the golden fleece from the battling rams. As they battle in the heat, she is daunted by the task of plucking fleece off their backs. At night she sits amongst the water reeds, listening to their advice on how to retrieve the fleece peacefully. The water reeds advise her that the rams leave their fleece behind as they rub against the reeds on their way to the fields. 

The task serves as a symbol to find your own rhythm in the world, trusting and honoring your own unique cadence in the chaos of life. In my work over the past eight years I’ve been creating scents alongside my studio work, sharing privately and on occasion with the public. Included in this installation is a scent inspired by the narrative of the golden fleece. I’ve titled it “Invisible Permission” and it smells of cool water reeds after a long, hard day in the sun. Invisible permission is something we seek often when calibrating our desires, whether in work or play, when no one is there to give it to us. Invisible permission is a reminder to trust your instincts and listen to your rhythm. 

I have been doing the black drawings continually since the election. They are part rage and they are part a celebration of not staying quiet anymore, of allowing all parts of my intuition to have a space at the table, a table that continues to oppress women of all stripes. The blue crowd drawings and paintings are a meditation on the idea of where in crowds do we become one with another rhythm, when do we remove ourselves from it, when do we resist it? It’s only through deep listening and honoring what we hear that we can stay true to ourselves. Lastly, I attribute my newer work in its abstraction to the fact that I work in tandem with scent. Scent work allows me to stay comfortable with the open and liminal spaces of abstraction.