Katherine Desjardins

Associate Instructional Professor, Visual Arts
Logan Center 237
Teaching at UChicago since 2008

Trained as a painter, Desjardins gained critical attention for works that question social and political mores through re-purposing the vernacular language of 50's-era encyclopedias, coloring books and behavior-modification manuals. Functioning as palimpsests, these works defy a superficial read and subvert the content of the original source material through layered juxtaposition.

Her recent project-based work expands upon these interests through the creation of site-inspired speculative situations which---to varying degrees-- engage painting, drawing, video, and collaborative performance---in layered response to tensions between internal, psychological/imaginative space and external, physical/political reality.

Desjardins earned her MFA in painting in Florence, Italy, where she worked closely with mentors who came out of the Italian Radical Design movement, and with whom she continues to collaborate. This parallel “social” practice engages experiential pedagogy toward the collective creation of objects of speculative design. These projects are intended as catalysts for discussion--rather than answers or solutions--of shared topics of social concern, including gang violence, immigration, and the global climate emergency.

Fellowships include residencies at the Fondazione Lac o Le Mon/Lecce, Italy; American Academy in Rome, Bogliasco Foundation/Genova, Italy; VCCA/France; Ucross; Exhibitions include: Giardino Botanico, University of Florence; Salone La Stanzetta, Rome Italy; Biagiotti Progetto Arte, Florence Italy; DeCordova Museum, MA; M.Y. Art Prospects, NYC; PBS/ArtAssignment; Awards include: Massachusetts Cultural Council; Berkshire-Taconic ART Award.