July 18: Kate MacNeil’s Redux show confronts the aftermath of trauma

by Connelly Hardaway, Charleston City Paper

What does it mean to remain? Who are we after the storm, after the love affair, after the political upset? After the defining moment, what defines us?

Kate MacNeil, College of Charleston grad and former studio artist at Redux, wants to look at what’s left behind. In her latest show, residue, opening at Redux this Friday, she does just that, through both visual and performance art. MacNeil, who just received her MFA in studio art at the University of Buffalo, says that residue is a continuation of the work she was doing in that program. “I was doing a lot of research into trauma theory, applying that to my artistic practice,” says MacNeil.

“As a society, trauma is a word we all know — like a traumatic car accident or war incident — but people don’t talk about the after effects of trauma,” she says. “There’s the messiness that goes along with healing, the terrible depressions. It’s something we don’t talk about or deal with very well.” As the show’s description reads, “residue seeks to confront the silence surrounding traumatic events.”

MacNeil says that her work is informed by both personal experience, and by the lives of those around her. It makes sense, of course — we have all experienced some kind of trauma (some tragedies of the everyday variety can hit us harder than we know) and we certainly know people who have struggled as well. Through this personal connection to her work, MacNeil often focuses on the use of her body.