Happy St. Patrick's Day: Kathy Prendergast

Secret Kiss, 1999. Knitted Wool. 12 x 16 x 6 1/2 inches. Gift of Heather and Tony Podesta Collection

In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, Broad Strokes is highlighting an artist of Irish descent whose work is in the collection. Kathy Prendergast is a contemporary sculptor, draftsperson, installation artist, painter, and knitter currently working in London. Her work deals with sexuality, identity, landscaping, mapping, control, and power, and revolves around her personal history. Entering the art world in the early 1980s, Prendergast started her career focusing solely on mapmaking and draftsmanship and then segwayed into sculpture, installation, and domestic creations.

Kathy Prendergast was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1958. She attended the National College of Art and Design in Dublin from 1976 to 1980, and again from 1982 to 1983, earning a BFA in drawing and drafting. Upon graduating, Prendergast moved to London and enrolled in an MFA program at the Royal Academy of Art. During her time in graduate school, Prendergast participated in the Paris Biennale in 1985. She created a series of intricate cartographies from various cities, using her body as the horizon line for the map. She then began to explore the female body and identity in the Body Map series in which she painted cross sections of the female body as an uncharted landscape. She explored altering domestic objects in the early 1990s, following the Surrealist techniques of Meret Oppenheim and adding an empty, human element. Secret Kiss, 1999, is an example of this technique.

Prendergast’s work can be seen in a variety of museums and private collections around the world, including the Tate Gallery in London, the Cheekwood Museum of Art in Nashville, and the Contemporary Museum in Honolulu. She was awarded the Premio 2000 for best young artist at the Venice Biennale for her series The City Drawings, which featured several tiny delicate drawings of the street plans of world capitals. In 1999, Prendergast had a solo exhibition at the Irish Museum of Modern Art. 

Ali Printz is currently an intern in the Library and Research Center at NMWA

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