b. 1979; Lives and works in Brooklyn, NY

In her work, Kate McQuillen seeks a feeling of in-between: dissolving and appearing, ancient but also contemporary, finished and unfinished, heroic but clumsy. Her subject matters shift from painting to painting, and come from various sources. Her aim is consistent, however, as she seeks to make images that primarily operate outside of language, or dip in and out of it, leaving a sense of longing, perplexity, or desire in the viewer.


While the artist often does preparatory work with cut paper stencils and pre-mixed colors, the majority of her work happens in the moment. It is in this instant when she can sense a unity between the hand and the mind, and ideas that have come into her life–from books, films, music, poetry–can then transmit onto the surface. When describing her process, McQuillen often refers to Amy Sillman’s description of Helen Frankenthaler working in “shots,” where she would go into a painting and destroy whatever was underneath with the subsequent layer. Working in a similar manner, every “shot” has the distinct possibility of the piece getting destroyed by the next pass. When they are on the wall they are one thing, and when they go back onto the floor and under the screen they can change fully, across the whole image, with one or two passes of the squeegee. The speed of things is especially interesting to the artist, as she sees the image begin to emerge, and guides it intuitively and on-the-fly. 


Visual elements in McQuillen’s work sometimes have a feeling of an emulsion, others appear like light leaks, and the smooth surface beneath the layers of acrylic bounces light back at the viewer. When the squeegee passes over her marks, it captures what is there in one instantaneous stroke, flattening the image. There are negative lines, erased marks, merged layers, all smoothed out onto one surface. The artist allows for all kinds of printmaking “mistakes”: moiré patterns, thicker ink at the screen edges, and kiss marks.

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