Artist’s Project: Penny McCarthy


“Much of my life is spent amassing a stock of documents, unfathomable documents that I feel drawn to preserve. These pages for Esopus are a kind of archive, repository or visual inventory that compiles drawn and painted representations to collate and cross reference different kinds of information. I am intrigued by the dream logic of these fragments from the past. This collection of texts and images can be read as notes from the future about fate, as if they are trying to warn of dangers we must soon face. The project draws on a range of source material including political memos, scientific experiments, fictional texts and details of images from art history.”—Penny McCarthy

Penny McCarthy was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in Seattle and San Diego. She studied fine art in Sheffield, England, where she now lives and works as course leader for the M.F.A. program in fine art at Sheffield Hallam University. McCarthy uses pencil drawing as a form of close reading; her recent work, which involves research into such sources as genetic mapping, transcripts from the Apollo missions, studies of snowflakes, and 17th-century maps, explores the imaginative space of the book. Her published works include Encyclopaedia of Dust (RGAP, 2001) and Shadow Book (RGAP, 2004); she has received awards from the Wellcome Trust, Arts Council England, and the Arts and Humanities Research Council. McCarthy’s recent exhibitions include Nothing is Forever at South London Gallery and Ulysse(s): L’autre mer, at the Fonds Régionale d’Art Contemporain (FRAC) in Rennes, France.