Kate Petley is an American abstract artist whose work refers to psychologically charged space. Interested in the sweet spot where the hand made intersects digital technology, her process combines collage, painting, photography, and digital printing. Her work has been exhibited at the MCA Denver, the Museum of South Texas, the Nicolaysen Museum, the Martin Museum at Baylor University, the Museum of the Southwest, Diverseworks, and the Center for Contemporary Art Santa Fe. Petley installed her twenty-sixth solo exhibition in January. Recently awarded a residency in Ireland for a photography-based project, she will participate with How to Flatten a Mountain in PhotoIreland 2017. She is a Ucross Foundation Fellowship recipient and completed an invitational residency at the Franz Mayer of Munich Architectural Art Glass studio in Germany. Previous awards include an NEA Rockefeller Foundation Grant.
Petley’s monoprints are published by Manneken Press, Bloomington, Illinois, and her work is represented by Robischon Gallery in Denver and Weinberger Fine Art in Kansas City. The artist lives and works in Longmont, Colorado, north of Boulder.
My work takes its place at the intersection of our public and urban surroundings, marking the psychologically charged spaces we occupy. I use this to articulate the sweet spot where my handmade marks intersect digital technology. The push-pull between the illusion of visual depth and the physically flat reality of the paintings compels me. There is an awkward tension in this illusion that makes me curious about how it might be used. I’m looking for a particular rhythm, a clumsy formality that seems almost tender.
Moving away from narrative towards sensation, subject matter is pushed out and an experiential sense of space fills the gap left behind. By complicating the relationship of foreground to background, alluding to a distinct presence, my own experiences are inserted.
The process begins with a temporary collage, surrendering to the moment when an image steps forward. A mirage of a painting appears. Digitally scaled without alteration, it is conceptually important that the images do not originate in the computer. Returning to paint upon the surface collapses any remaining trace of difference in how I approach these materials.
Constellations of works evolve together in small groupings, deliberately enhancing the suggestive range of difference from piece to piece.