detail of painting

Kate Petley: Staring into the Fire
Fall 2021

Kate Petley: Staring into the Fire brings together a new body of work comprised of abstract photographs and works on canvas. Petley’s image-making process is guided by her will to transform and mesmerize. Sculptures assembled from castaway materials such as cardboard and colored gels are placed into intensely lit arrangements and photographed. Corrugated and pitted surfaces undergo a startling shift when presented as photographs or printed on canvases. Her luminous abstract paintings bathe viewers in fields of overlapping translucent and opaque forms. Her shapes float in front of or penetrate ambient color fields of gradated reds, oranges, greens, indigos and violets. 

Using mechanisms of contemporary technology, Petley counters the quick pace of viewing images on devices. She leverages physiological responses to color and light, inviting absorption in brightly hued geometries and cast shadows that lend the compositions a holographic appearance. Her application of hand-brushed overlays of acrylic paint attempts to further slow the looking process. The contrast of the flat printed surfaces with the subtle textures of opaque paint generates dissonance between digital and material realms.   

This exhibition was curated by Sandra Q. Firmin.