Kate McQuillen

Kate McQuillen is a Chicago-based artist working in print and installation, and is represented by O’Born Contemporary. She has shown in Toronto, Chicago, Montreal, and Boston, and has works in public and private collections in Europe and North America. Writings about her work have been included in such news outlets as The Chicago Reader, Time Out Chicago and Rabble.ca, and in publications by Columbia College Chicago and Rutgers University.

In recent years, she attended residencies in the U.S. and abroad: Ox-Bow(Michigan), Open Studio (Toronto), Frans Masereel Center (Belgium), the Center for Book & Paper Arts (Chicago), the Ragdale Foundation (Lake Forest, IL), Elsewhere Artist Collaborative (Greensboro, N.C.), and Lillstreet Art Center. She has been the recipient of numerous City of Chicago Cultural Grants and Illinois Arts Council Professional Development Grants. She has received visiting artist teaching positions at Women’s Studio Workshop in Rosendale, NY, and at Lake Forest College in Lake Forest, IL, and was elected Director of the Chicago Printer’s Guild for two consecutive years. In 2009, she received her M.F.A. in Visual Arts from York University.

McQuillen uses collage, portraiture, and landscape to discuss issues of surveillance and Big Data. In her portraits and installations, whistleblowers and information leaks seek to undermine government watchdogs.



Residency Period:

Sep 2014–Dec 2014

Project Statement:

I begin by creating large monoprinted images around a central theme--flashes of light, lenses, and eyes. The markmaking is physical, made by scraping razor blades across the plate, and the lines are visceral, often chattering across the surface. Their physicality acts as evidence of my hand in the work, and their photographic appearance implies a recording of my presence. I then cut up these finished images into smaller squares and combine them with other prints, creating a web of my own information that, once whole, is now scrambled.   Through this, I reference the processes in which our information is generated and sent out into the world, and how our trails of information can indicate where our physical person is located. In my final images, I reassemble these prints to create constructed images that just barely hold together, and never quite resolve. I burn the surfaces with matches, and obscure the markmaking with puddles of milky india ink, as a means of destroying my paper trail and evading being watched. Tiny explosions appear the surface of the images, blowing up my trail.   Themes of tracking appear in the work through images of triangles and geometric forms, and reference the tactic of Dead Reckoning, a means of determining a person’s location based on knowledge of their previous whereabouts. These works express my desire to go off the digital grid, to erase my information trail and regain anonymity and privacy.   Printmaking, a medium generally known for its role in the dissemination of information, becomes in this process a platform for discussing how personal information is now public and/or stored by independent and government agencies. I do this by employing the most singular type of printing–monoprinting–as a representation of individualized information. The dangers of recording personal information are discussed through my desire to burn and blot out my images.

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