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Katie McGuire

Knitted Polystyrene Sculpture
40″ x 28″

United Kingdom

Clara Lieu, RISD Adjunct Professor

Clara Lieu
Art Prof & Partner

Artist Statement
“I am currently studying in my second year on a Visual Arts course at the University of Salford. Only currently have I become interested in the use of textiles. I previously have experimented with abstract painting, prints and drawings. I wanted my work to take some form and stand away from a white studio wall, leading to experimenting with sculpture.

‘Transitions’ is all about movement. It started out being the movement of material. Now I relate to it on a very personal level. Whilst making the piece, I realised that it was not just about the materials movement but my own personal movement. I repeat movements everyday, walking to university, walking to work etc. – the knitting is symbolic of my repetitive paths.

The sculpting of the piece represents my paths I take in life – they’re free range. The material has a mind of its own when trying to sculpt, just as life does for choosing my pathways. I’ve crossed so many ways and gone round in so many circles, I wanted the slopes and curves within the piece to be representative of this.

I feel the work is a performative piece as it was created with so much motion. I felt I became one with the fabric through knitting and sculpting, controlling its movements as I very much so try to control my own. ‘Transitions’ is about my changing of pathways, but also the simple repetitive movements I make each day during life. It’s a self expression of my journey.

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Video Transcript

“I find this piece to be endlessly fascinating. What you’re doing is taking a very familiar process, which is knitting, but you’ve changed material and the scale so dramatically that it’s really transformed into this bold, gargantuan presence.

I love the fact that this piece looks so huge and heavy you’ve got these massive volumes that are twisting and turning. It’s a super dynamic piece to be engaging with. What I’d like to see more of is negative space in the lower section of the sculpture because right now it seems like the sculpture has so much going on in the sides and the top, but then when I get down to the bottom, it almost feels like the sculpture is too adhered to the floor.

So if you could open that up a little bit with more cavernous spaces, maybe even to the point that your viewer could crawl underneath that space, I think that would get the piece to have even more movement than it already does, but it’s an amazing piece, really innovative concept, terrific use of materials.”

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2 responses on "Katie McGuire"

  1. This piece has so much potential! By using knitting as a metaphor for your life’s path, you’re tapping into an ancient relationship between textiles and life as well as textiles and storytelling (think of motifs like “the tapestry of life”, “spinning yarns”, and lives that are “woven together” through a set of circumstances). You’re also part of this current resurgence of textiles in contemporary art, meaning you have a lot of other artists you can look at and respond to right now. Look at Caroline Wells Chandler, Max Adrian, and Orly Genger.

    I wonder how you would feel about other knitting-like processes. Have you tried crochet? Or some of the other stitches you can do with knitting? How could those contribute to the language you’ve created between knitting and routine? Maybe that could show how different types of routines and decisions interact. Also, don’t be afraid to knit the “wrong” way and let your knitting develop holes and frayed ends, and areas where it pinches in some places and bulges in others. Your sculpting of the knitting is a good association with the undulating of one’s life path, but rarely does one’s path look so perfectly uniform along the way.

    I’m really excited about this piece and can’t wait to see where you go from here!

  2. What a striking piece of work! Knitting a large-scale sculpture like this was a really clever way to convey both “repetitive movements” and the “changing of pathways,” as it allows you to speak to the viewer on the level of both the larger gesture of the sculpture and the smaller gestures involved in its construction.

    That said, at this moment I’m more interested in the latter than the former, and would love to see you push this process to make even more dynamic shapes, so that both elements are equally compelling for the viewer. I think it would be helpful for you to think of the piece more specifically as a narrative – much the way you discuss it in your artist statement – and consider ways to communicate that as a sort of visual metaphor.

    Maybe there’s a specific location, landmark, or object in your past that can symbolize this change of paths? Try some free-writing exercises, small-scale studies, or observational sketches based on whatever you come up with. Just because your sculpture is abstract doesn’t mean you can’t do research! The knitted element of this piece is probably the strongest because it’s something you’ve studied, so now you need to give every other aspect as much thought and intention.

    You’re really onto something, here, though… As Prof Lieu says in her critique, this is a very innovative approach, and I love the way you’re working with scale!

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