Kate Petley reframes the history of luminous surface via the ever-present backlit screen, which has permanently altered how we see. To unravel the meaning of this, Petley uses photography, sculpture, and painting together in a way that eliminates their separate categories. She is interested in the subject of light, its impact on the senses, and in locating as many approaches to this as possible.
Temporary environments are constructed from materials like paper and film, then placed within an intensely lit arrangement and photographed. Scale and orientation are upended as the sculptural shapes in her images assume mythic proportions. Roughly handled, these constructed arrangements show signs of their making, with no attempt made to conceal their flawed surfaces. Petley’s longstanding commitment to transformation as both process and content is offered up with imagery that points toward the artificial sublime.
In 2022, Von Lintel Gallery in Los Angeles presented Petley’s second solo exhibition, Robischon Gallery in Denver featured her fifth solo exhibition titled This Bright Day, and her work was included in Digital Visions at Grinnell College Museum of Art, with catalogue essay by art critic Saul Ostrow.
Additionally, Petley had solo exhibitions in 2020-21 at the University of Colorado Art Museum (CUAM), Von Lintel Gallery, and Robischon Gallery. As guest curator for the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, Petley 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. She lives and works in New York.