Kathleen McCloud / Santa Fe, NM, USA
Kathleen McCloud’s art projects are immersions into what is close to home and heart and worthy of studio investigation. Her own migration, from White Plains, NY where she was born, to the industrial suburbs of the Midwest and the pristine Rocky Mountains before settling in New Mexico, is at the core of much of her work. Art making is the way she tracks and investigates the shifting cultural and personal terrain.
McCloud’s work has been exhibited in museums and art spaces across the US and is in private and public collections, including: New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe Community College, Hyatt Collection, NM Central Community College NMAIPP and the Herradura Collection.
Past projects include Futurology: Welcome to the Third Wave, a multi-media exploration into the Futurist writings of Marshall McLuhan and Alvin Toffler regarding digital media and the information age. During the course of the project (2009-2011, culminating in a solo exhibition with Axle Projects in Santa Fe, NM), McCloud transformed the limbs of a dead apple tree near her house into cartoonish, giant pencils. A series of woodblock prints nodded to antique methods of printing while commenting on new media culture.
With the same intense curiosity, she took a personal collection of correspondence she’d inherited from a distant uncle into her studio for a 3-year sojourn into surrealism, Henry Miller and the Tropic of Cancer (the collection contained correspondence between Miller and her uncle). An article about the project ‘Hotel Central’ was published in Nexus: The International Henry Miller Journal, Volume 10.
In the fall of 2016, McCloud was a resident at the Santa Fe Art Institute Water Rights themed session. She photographed and researched a controversial riparian restoration project along the Santa Fe River near her house in La Cieneguilla, south of Santa Fe. Her mixed- media photomontages and woodcuts of the now abandoned beaver ponds are an ongoing look at climate, migration, and the exotics and natives who comprise diversity presented at SFAI, part of an ongoing look at climate, migration, and the exotics and natives who comprise diversity over extended time.
In the winter of 2018, she was a printmaking resident at the Chhaap Foundation in Gujarat, India. ‘Meta-Tourist’, a solo exhibition at gfContemporary in Santa Fe ,expanded upon her ongoing themes of migration, cultural exchange and the question of home and belonging.
“My paintings, print-based constructions and collages are about time and place. They re-search popular history and the status quo, interject back-story, and explore the influence of the past upon the future.
Often starting with an object or a place, I use a variety of materials to develop an open, ongoing narrative with characters in changing environments. My home in La Cieneguilla, NM, south of Santa Fe, is a source of inspiration. The echo of the past evident in the petroglyphs carved into the volcanic rocks nearby, the nightsky and migratory paths (the Camino Real curves around my house) add a mythic, geo-cosmologic sense of time to the work. The narrative, while influenced by events taking place in the world, weaves history, science, news and mythology for a new perspective on the present.
Kathleen McCloud’s Mixed-media Spaces:
by Meghan Moe Beitiks
￼￼Drawing from research on histories, landscapes and organisms, Kathleen McCloud makes mixed-media spaces. Her process is rooted in her home of La Cieneguilla, but includes an expansive sense of community, migration and belonging, not confined by sharp boundaries and often breaking up into the surrounding space.
Figures and landscapes blend, dream-like, into other palettes, layers and words, articulating the ethereality of rapidly shifting ecologies and perceptions. Remnants of the past are woven together into a fantastical present. The result is not chaos, but a comfortably uneven terrain. This embrace of the uneven is at the core of McCloud’ s work—a deep love for the roughshod surfaces and experiences that are crucial to our survival.
For years I’d driven by the Santa FE River as it runs through La Cieneguilla, the land grant community where I’ve lived since 1988. I’d witnessed the slow transformation of the riparian area from over grazed, denuded river-bank with algae blooms and scent of detergent into a dynamic wetlands with increased wildlife, result of a riparian restoration that started in 2000 with the removal of invasive plants and the planting of cottonwoods and red willow.
By 2005, it was evident as I drove CR 56, (part of the Camino Real) that on sections of the river, beavers had felled large cottonwoods. The ponds that I loved were a growing source of contention with landowners who believed the dams were impeding the flow of water downriver and affecting their ability to irrigate. My own research showed that beaver dams were beneficial; they increased biodiversity, filtered ground water and decreased damage due to flash floods.
By 2016 when SFAI put out the call for the water rights residency, the same landowners went before the county commissioners to request the beavers be ‘extricated’ as a nuisance at which point I decided to apply to for the residency. The decision gave me the focus required to shift gears in my studio practice and integrate my life and work in a very rich way. I came to realize how I’d marginalized myself as a ‘non-native’ to the area- who was I to disagree with the voice of traditional, multi generation landowners? The residency provided the structure and community support I needed to make the Santa Fe River the focus of my art practice for several months. During that time I became more involved with my community, joining the Santa Fe River Traditional Communities Collaborative, speaking with neighbors all along the river, from Cochiti Pueblo to the Santa Fe Watershed Association, to gain perspective on, in water rights parlance, the ‘highest and best use’ of the water.
The residency experience expanded my way of working as an artist; a much needed integration at this point in my life. As a maker, I continue to photograph the river and construct photomontages and woodblock prints, and am still involved with water- land issues in my community. Thanks SFAI.