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Communications and Marketing

Are you being watched?

Chicago artist Kate McQuillen brings her interpretation of surveillance to the Lake Forest College art galleries starting Feb. 27 in the form of large monoprint murals.


Together with art students from Lecturer Betsy Odom’s Installation Art class, McQuillen produced 60 prints, cut them into more than 1,000 pieces, and assembled them into wall-sized murals depicting masses of data. One mural includes a female form. Inspired by the ancient Greek and Roman goddess of liberty Libertas, the figure holds an analog camera to symbolize illumination and knowledge.

McQuillen describes one of these female shapes in her statement about her exhibit, titled No Such Agency: “At the top of the wall, predominantly white squares are loosely gathered, creating a hovering mass. The base of the wall features a life-size, silhouetted, cut-paper figure of a woman pointing an analog camera towards the sky. One arm raised, the female figure shoots a photo of the spectacle. She is being watched by this cloud of data, but is watching back.”

A resident at Anchor Graphics in Chicago, McQuillen used her own figure as a model for her artwork. This was a decision that became even more interesting to her as she continued her project.

“As I was putting this all together, Googling to complete my research, I became part of the story. I started to wonder, ‘Am I being surveilled as I do this?’” she said.

These are ideas she shared with students throughout her stint at the College.

“Working with the students has allowed me to see this project through the eyes of Millennials, who are more connected to technology than most of my generation,” McQuillen said. “They seem to really value their right to communicate through devices without surveillance and take that very seriously…I hope that this project has inspired them to consider these issues and what their role can be in this debate as it continues to unfold.” 

McQuillen also invited professors to utilize the messages from her exhibit for discussion in their communication, politics, social justice, women and gender studies, and American Studies classes. Of particular relevance is the recent hype in current events surrounding the likes of Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, and Edward Snowden, each who is under fire for leaking classified government documents. 

McQuillen’s exhibit will be up through March, and she will open with an artist talk on Feb. 27 at 4 p.m., followed by the opening at 7:30 p.m. Visit her artist page on Facebook: katemcquillenartist Follow her on Instagram at katemcquillen.