Collapsing the boundaries between photography and painting, Kate Petley reframes the luminous surface via the ever-present backlit screen. She draws inspiration from sources such as portraiture, still life, personal experience, and the mechanics of visual perception.

Ordinary materials like cardboard and paper are manipulated and placed within intensely lit arrangements that defy description.  Indeterminate light sources illuminate vivid environments that question scale and orientation, using color and form to upend expectations of photographed reality. Sculptural shapes assume mythic proportions, acting within atmospheric backgrounds. Roughly handled, her constructed arrangements show signs of their making, with no attempt made to conceal their flawed surfaces. Petley’s longstanding commitment to experimentation and transformation as both process and content is offered up with imagery that generates complex reactions, pointing toward the artificial sublime.

In 2022, Von Lintel Gallery in Los Angeles featured a solo exhibition combining canvases and traditionally printed photographs. Chances Are is Petley’s second exhibition with the gallery. Robischon Gallery in Denver presented Petley’s fourth solo exhibition with the gallery, titled This Bright Day. Her work was also included in Digital Visions at Grinnell College Museum of Art, curated by Matthew Kluber with catalogue essay by art critic Saul Ostrow.

Petley had solo exhibitions in 2020-21 at the University of Colorado Art Museum (CUAM), Von Lintel Gallery in Los Angeles and Robischon Gallery in Denver. Barry Whistler Gallery in Dallas presented her work in a three-person exhibition titled On Screen Off Screen: Painting and Technology, reviewed in Glasstire. As guest curator for the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, she selected nine artists from across the US and London for The Stubborn Influence of Painting, occupying the entire museum.

She has participated in solo and group exhibitions at the MCA Denver, FotoFest Houston, Museum of South Texas, Nicolaysen Art Museum, Martin Museum of Art at Baylor University, Museum of the Southwest, and the Arlington Museum of Art. Petley participated in PhotoIreland 2017 in Dublin and is a Ucross Foundation fellowship recipient. In 1990, she was awarded an NEA Rockefeller Foundation grant in support of a photographic installation exhibited at Diverseworks Houston. Her work is held in private and public collections including the University of Colorado Art Museum (CUAM), the City of Houston, the Polsinelli Collection, New York Presbyterian Hospital, the Federal Reserve Bank, and many others.

Petley has been featured in thirty solo exhibitions and is represented by Von Lintel Gallery, Robischon Gallery, and Manneken Press.

Petley lives and works in New York.