Christina McPhee

San Francisco , CA
United States
California US
United States
Record Status: 
Short biography: 

Christina McPhee is a media and visual artist whose work is involved in the ‘deep ecology’ of topologic mark-making, abstraction, and illumination. Her work often engages site and territory, integrates scientific data into sonified, time-based and visual images, and reflects on excess and beauty at the edges of architecture and natural science. Christina McPhee was born in Los Angeles in 1954. Her family moved to Nebraska when she was seven and she grew up on the edge of a small prairie town, and taught herself drawing. A voracious reader, she was also influenced by an intense involvement in piano and classical music, and, via minimal contact with the media culture of the period, a childhood of making things. She returned to Los Angeles with a full scholarship at Scripps College, Claremont, then transferred to Kansas City Art Institute to study painting (BFA 1976 valedictorian). She worked at Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard, then studied at Boston University School for the Arts. She was a student of Philip Guston during his last two years of teaching, and graduated with the MFA in painting in 1979. Throughout the eighties she pursued landcape and topologic large scale drawing studies of archeological-architectural studies in the American West. She raised two children in Kansas City, Missouri, taught drawing at the Kansas City Art Institute, and organized exhibitions in the region and mountain west. In the late nineties she started to do remote performance and video projects using nascent desktop editing software, and from 2002 on become a pioneer in new media arts internationally. She moved to California to continue work in media and drawing at remote technological landscapes, involving abstraction and montage around her documentary shots of ecological crisis at energy producing sites. Her projects on seismic memory and on sonification of carbon sink data were among the first media projects to dwell in a discourse between architectural space, performance, science and early modernist abstraction. She curated and moderated the Sydney-based -empyre- list serv for digital medi arts and culture from 2003-2008, and was participating editor on behalf of -empyre- when it was invited to contribute and exhibit at Documenta 12 (Halle), Kassel 2007. She taught for several years in the new media graduate program at UC Santa Cruz; then left academia to concentrate full time on production. She shot and edited a series of short films on deepwater life in the Gulf of Mexico after the BP oil spill, at the invitation of biologists at the University of Louisiana. Her newest projects (2013) involve painting and drawing conceptually driven ‘carbon cycle models.’ She works with layered, linear sequences and formal structures, often interpolating poetic, political, and scientific data within topologic glyphs. She is based in San Francisco and the central coast of California. Solo museum exhibitions include American University Museum, Washington, DC and Bildmuseet, Umea, Sweden, and Freies Museum, Berlin (video retrospective). Recent group exhibitions include Bucharest Biennial 3, Museum of Modern Art Medellin; Headlands Center for the Arts, and Los Angeles County Museum of Art (with Center for Visual Music), and Berkeley Art Museum- Pacific Film Archive. Public collections of her work include New Museum of Contemporary Art-Rhizome Artbase; Whitney Museum of American Art-Artport; Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center/Taylor Museum; Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Thresholds New Media Collection, Scotland; and the United States Department of State Art in Embassies. She is a MAP Fund for Performance grantee (2012) with Pamela Z for Carbon Song Cycle, a performance work for chamber ensemble, voice, electronics and video (2013), which premiered at Berkeley Art Museum in April 2013.. Other awards and support include Turbulence/NY State Foundation for the Arts with GH Hovagimyan for “Plazaville” (2009) Documenta 12 Magazine Project (travel and participation support) (2007); American Scandinavian Foundation (exhibition support), 2006; Experimental Television Center, New York (production support); HUMLab visiting artist residency, Umea Universitat, Sweden (2005); Lounge|lab residency and exhibtion support, Bauhaus-Universitat, Weimar (2003), and Banff Center for the Arts (residency, Media and Visual Arts, 2000). (Source: artist website)

Works by this author:

Work title Publication Type Year
Naxsmash Installation, Published on the Web (individual site) 2003
Full Name: 
Christina McPhee
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Jill Walker Rettberg