New Voices: Kate McQuillen

Kate McQuillen examines the post–9/11 environment and the resulting collective consciousness. Her works touch on surveillance, data collection and leaks, government watchdogs, and the general examination of how we have collectively changed since 9/11. With many other artists and exhibitions considering the cultural watershed of 9/11, McQuillen takes a position in favor of the notion of before 9/11 and after 9/11 art-making, asserting that art-making, and more broadly, the collective psyche have noticeably changed since that day.

McQuillen’s work is weighty, with color palettes that suggest earnest subject matter and visual metaphors–architectural forms, clouds, smoke, and fire–that address the interpretation of secret data collection and surveillance. In the Scramble series, collaged monoprints resemble burned-out and oxidized landscapes or architecture, suggestive of sites and information utterly abstracted and unknowable.

No Such Agency II is more purely architectonic. Its collaged monoprints compose a glowing, back-lit column with light seeping most heavily out of the top. Both memorial and tenuous, the piece vacillates between steady and insecure, using light, form, and painterly marks to gather information and give shape to what little we know about data collection. In this work, McQuillen’s greatest success lies in her ability to give material form to such indefinite information, creating a platform for dialogue.


Scratch, Scramble Series, Smoke and ink on collaged monoprints. 28″ x 28.” 2014


Stealth II, Scramble Series, Smoke and ink on collaged monoprints. 20″ x 20.” 2014


No Such Agency II, Collaged monoprints, 10.5′ x 15″ round


No Such Agency II, detail


Shoe Bomber, tissue paper, watercolor paper

10ShoeBomber_detailShoe Bomber, detail


No Such Agency I. Collaged monoprints. 11.5’x 14′

Kate McQuillen is a Chicago-based artist working in print and installation. 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 The Chicago Reader, Time Out Chicago, and in publications by Columbia College Chicago and Rutgers University. In 2009, she received her M.F.A. in Visual Arts from York University.

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