Video Artist Katy McCarthy Will Be Center’s First Artist-in-Residence

by | May 24, 2018 | Pressroom

Artist Katy McCarthy is the first recipient of the St. Elmo Arts Residency and Fellowship, a joint program between the Department of Art and Art History and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin. The residency will take place over the 2018-19 academic year and will include a solo exhibition at the Wildflower Center.

The St. Elmo Arts Residency offers one fellowship each academic year to a newly minted MFA artist in painting, drawing, print, photo, sculpture or multimedia. The residency aims to support emerging artists and the creation of new work by providing dedicated studio and living space in South Austin in addition to a $30,000 stipend. Each fellow will further engage with the UT Austin community through classes and lectures in Studio Art in the Department of Art and Art History and at the Wildflower Center.

McCarthy earned her MFA in combined media at Hunter College in New York City this spring.

“Katy McCarthy works in the realm of video performance, but true to her degree moniker, she often makes installations for her films to exist in their perfect world,” said chair of the Department of Art and Art History Jack Risley. “She is an exciting artist, and we are thrilled by the prospect of having her as part of our community for the next year.”

Conceptualizing her projects as “video time travel,” McCarthy immerses herself in research, seeking the specificity of her subject matter. Her recent films revolve around historical female figures for whom she imagines conversations that span the centuries. In one, Mary Todd Lincoln frets about overspending the congressional budget as she redecorates the White House; in another, Manet’s muse/model admits to her nervous breakdown in a Skype chat. With a critical eye, these films capture 19th-century manners bumping up against contemporary mores and behaviors.

McCarthy thinks of her work as connecting emotionally to complex women throughout history, finding particular interest in the narratives of first ladies. Next year, she will deepen that exploration through a focus on former first lady Lady Bird Johnson as part of her collaboration with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

“The Wildflower Center is a focal point of Mrs. Johnson’s environmental legacy, and we are excited to see McCarthy’s creativity and passion shed further light on Mrs. Johnson’s vision and our increasingly important mission,” said Patrick Newman, executive director of the Wildflower Center.

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