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ABOUT KATHARINE

Katharine McDevitt was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, and moved to Mexico in 1977. After receiving a B.F.A. in sculpture from the University of New Hampshire, she studied stone carving at the Escuela Nacional de Pintura, Escultura y Grabado “La Esmeralda”, of the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, in Mexico City, where she later taught sculpture. She also studied graduate courses at the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). She has been a member of the Salon de la Plástica Mexicana since 1983.

 

Katharine worked as sculptor in residence and research professor at the Museo Nacional de Agricultura of the Universidad Autónoma Chapingo from 1994 to 2016, where she taught sculpture and drawing, created sculptures and designed rituals for the University based on prehispanic agricultural rites, and participated in the creation of the permanent exhibitions of the Museum. In 2004, Katharine created a monumental bronze Corn Goddess for Chapingo, donating her work to the UACh and to the people of Mexico, as a token of gratitude. She has presented seven individual exhibitions and participated in more than 50 group shows in Mexico and, the United States. Her work has been exhibited at the Palacio de Bellas Artes, the Auditorio Nacional, the Colegio de Cristo, the Museo Nacional de Agricultura, Palacio de Correos, and the Museo del Carmen, in Mexico, as well as Kouros gallery in New York and Harvard University, among others. She is mentioned in the Diccionario de Escultores Mexicanos del Siglo XX, by Lily Kassner, UNAM, and has received various awards.

 

Her work is mainly focused on the human figure, with special interest in symbols and archetypes associated with the theme of fertility. She has created numerous public monuments, installations, reliefs and portrait busts, including a statue of Norman Borlaug which has been installed in Ciudad Obregón, and El Batán, Mexico, as well as in New Delhi, India. The artist made two monuments in cement for the Municipal Sports Center of Texcoco, Mexico, inspired by the pre-hispanic ball game. She recently completed a bronze portrait bust of Henry Wallace for IICA in San Jose, Costa Rica.

 

She currently teaches stone carving at Pratt Fine Arts Center in Seattle. Katharine McDevitt currently resides in Mercer Island, Washington since 2016, and frequently returns to her home and studio in Tepetlaoxtoc, Mexico.

E-mail: sculpturekmcd@gmail.com   |   Telephones: (U.S.) (206) 913-7909, (Mexico) +52-15519171112   

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

2017 – present -  Pratt Fine Arts Center, Seattle, WA. Teaches stone carving.

1994-2016 - Universidad Autónoma Chapingo. Texcoco, Mexico. Sculptor and research profesor. Taught sculpture and drawing, restored artworks,  performed research and designed permanent exhibitions, created sculpture for the University, and created ceremonies for the University community based on prehispanic rituals.

1987-1989 - Escuela Nacional de Pintura, Escultura y Grabado “La Esmeralda”, Mexico City. Taught sculpture and mold making. 

1979-1993 -  Instituto Mexicano Norteamericano de Relaciones Culturales. Mexico City. Taught English.

1976–1977 - Harvard Graduate School of Education. Cambridge, MA. Taught sculpture to Spanish speaking community of Cambridge, under the patronaje of Harvard Graduate School of Education.

EDUCATION

1984-1985 - Escuela Nacional de Artes Plasticas, Universidad Autónoma de México. Mexico City. Graduate course in sculpture.

1977 -1983 - Escuela Nacional de Pintura, Escultura y Grabado “La Esmeralda”, Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes (INBA), Mexico City.  

1977 – Harvard University, Cambridge, MA. Poetry course with Octavio Paz.

1975 – Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico. Sculpture course.

1970-1974 - University of New Hampshire, Durham, N.H. Bachelor of Fine Arts, Magna Cum Laude.

SOLO EXHIBITIONS

2003 – Fertilidad. Museo Nacional de Agricultura. Universidad Autónoma Chapingo, Texcoco, Mexico.

2000 – Germinación. Museo Nacional de Agricultura.

1987 – Katharine McDevitt. Instituto Mexicano-Norteamericano de Relaciones Culturales, Mexico, D.F.

1986 – Matria Solar.Galería José María Velasco. Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes. Mexico, D.F.

1977 – Katharine McDevitt. Harvard Graduate School of Education. Cambridge, MA.

1976 – McDevitt. Stone Soup Gallery. Boston, MA.

GROUP SHOWS (SELECTED FROM OVER 50)

2019 – Reencuentro Gran Tenochtitlan. Palacio de Correos. Mexico City.

2018 – Reencuentro . Centro Cultural Mexiquense Bicentenario. Coatlinchán, Mexico.

2016 – Reencuentro. Fundación del Centro Cultural de Mexico Contemporáneo. Mexico City.

2016 – Reencuentro “La Esmeralda”. Centro Cultural San Angel. Mexico City.

2011 – Artistas de la Región de Texcoco. Centro Cultural Mexiquense Bicentenario. Coatlinchán, Mexico.

2009 – 30 Abstracciones Concretas. Centro Cultural Ahuehuete.Texcoco, Mexico.

2008 – Primer Bienal Internacional de Arte. Museo Nacional de Agricultura. Texcoco, Mexico.

2005 – 52 Mujeres en el Arte Mexicano. Museo del Carmen, Mexico City.

1993 – 46 Años de la Plástica Mexicana. Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City.

1989 – Nuestras Obras Maestras. Instituto Mexicano-Norteamericano de Relaciones Culturales. Mexico City.

1983 – Nuevos Valores. Salón de la Plástica Mexicana. Mexico City.

1982 – A Mini-Salon at Kouros. Kouros Gallery. 831 Madison Ave. N.Y., N.Y.

1982 – Sección Triennal de Escultura. Auditorio Nacional. Mexico City.

PUBLIC MONUMENTS

“Henry A. Wallace” (2017)

     The bronze portrait bust was commissioned by IICA to be installed in its headquarters in San Jose, Costa Rica. Henry A. Wallace was Secretary of Agriculture and Vice-President during the presidency of Franklin Delanoe Roosevelt.

“Roberto Serrano Cervantes” (2017)

     The Purepechepa community of Cherate, Los Reyes, Michoacan commissioned this bronze portrait bust for the town square, after this courageous leader was tragically killed by a crime cartel. 

“Juego de Pelota” (2014)

     The ancient prehispanic ball game inspired these two chiseled cement sculptures, one of the geometrically shaped ball court, and the other, of the stone ring through which the ball is launched. The work was commissioned by the municipal authorities of Texcoco, Mexico for the public sports center.   

“José Ramírez” (2014)

     The bronze portrait bust was commissioned by the family of the deceased, who was mayor of Zain Alto in the State of Zacatecas, Mexico, and assassinated by members of a drug cartel in 2013. The bust was installed at the entrance of the town.

“Dr. Norman Borlaug” (2013)

     This bronze portrait bust was commissioned by the Chapingo Autonomous University and is placed in the walkway of Illustrious Agronomists.

“Dr. Norman E. Borlaug” (2012)

     The monumental bronze statue of Norman Borlaug was commissioned by CIMMYT (Centro Internacional de Mejoramiento del Maíz y del Trigo), the wheat and corn research center in Mexico where the Nobel Prize winner Dr. Borlaug developed the varieties of wheat that were to launch the “Green Revolution”. The statue stands 7 feet in height, and the image is based on the emblematic photograph of Dr. Borlaug standing in a wheat field, taking notes.  Three copies of the statue were commissioned, one for CIMMYT headquarters in El Batán, State of Mexico, one for the CIANO center in Ciudad Obregón, Sonora, and one for the BISA headquarters in Delhi, India. 

“Czeslawa Prywer” (2010)

     The sculpture is a bronze portrait of the Polish geneticist, who immigrated to Mexico during World War II., made on request of the community named in her honor in Texcoco, Mexico.

“Assefaw Tewalde” (2010)

     The bronze portrait bust of the Eritrean scientist was commissioned by the Animal Science department of  Chapingo Autonomous University, and is placed at the entrance of the department.

“Samuel Trueba” (2009)

     The bronze portrait bust was commissioned by the Chapingo Autonomous University and the family of the deceased engineer in irrigation, who contributed significantly to education and agricultural development in Mexico. It is placed along the walkway of Illustrious Agronomists at the University.

“Quetzalcoatl” (2009)

     The work consists of a series of relief panels in polychromed cement, surrounding a pyramidal volcanic stone structure that serves as a base for a monumental flag at Chapingo Autonomous University in Mexico.. The lower panels represent the plumed serpent, Quetzalcoatl, whose feathers resemble the leaves of the corn plant. The upper panels are a series of stylized corn ears repeated in a rhythmic composition. The platform is used for a ceremony performed on September 15 commemorating Mexico’s Independence.

“Manuel Almazan” (2008)

     This bronze portrait bust was commissioned by the family of the deceased, is placed at the school in Texcoco, Mexico, where the subject was owner and director.

“El Sembrador” (2007) 

     The Sower was created for Chapingo Autonomous University. The bronze statue represents a young agronomist sowing wheat. A dove sits on his left shoulder, a reminder that Chapingo graduates must contribute to the peaceful coexistence among the agricultural communities of Mexico.

  

“Diosa del Maíz” (Corn Goddess) (2004)

     This bronze statue was designed specifically for the 150th anniversary of the Universidad Autónoma Chapingo, an institution dedicated to agricultural studies. The artist donated her work to the UACh and to the people of Mexico as a token of gratitude. The image of the Corn Goddess represents the emblematic plant whose center of origin is Mexico, and the millenary civilizations which have flourished thanks to its cultivation. She is also a symbolic representation of the seed of knowledge, which will give fruit at the conclusion of the formation of the future agronomists. The female standing figure is gestating the corn plant, and is enveloped in a mantle which resembles the husk that covers the ear of corn. The statue measures 7 feet in height, and stands on a platform faced with volcanic stone. Corn plants are sown around the monument each year in a ritual ceremony by students of the university.   

 

“Dios del Chile”  (1999)

     The sculpture measures 7 feet high and is made of cement. The design is based on the forms of the serrano chili pepper. The sculpture is placed at the former studio of Mathias Goeritz in Temixco, Morelos.

RITUALS

“Germination” and sculpture relief panel “Quetzalcoatl”

     The sculpture installation consists of 160 plaster hands measuring 50 cm height, sown in a furrowed field of red volcanic sand. The symbol of the hand was inspired by an image from one of the panels of the murals of the Diego Rivera Chapel at Chapingo, in which a hand emerges from the earth symbolizing the germination of the Mexican Revolution. The artist created the installation in 2000, to inaugurate the new millennium. Since its creation, every year on Feb. 22, Day of the Agronomist, the ritual “sowing” is performed. A sculpture panel representing Quetzalcoatl decorates the patio where the installation is placed. The hands are placed inside the Chapel, and the most outstanding students and faculty members, as well as special invited personalities, are the “sowers”, who take the hands from the Chapel and plant them in the furrows. The hand is an homage to the labor of the men and women who have tilled the earth and fed mankind for thousands of years, and to the oldest institution in the hemisphere dedicated to agronomical education since 1854. Every year a new hand is added, corresponding to the years of the institution’s existence. Special honorary “sowers” have included Norman Borlaug, Rigoberta Menchú, and Samuel Ruiz, among others.

“Procesión de Muertos” and sculpture relief panel “Tzompantli”

     Mexico’s Day of the Dead tradition is a syncretic amalgam of ancient past and present, and has been declared “Intangible Cultural Patrimony of Humanity” by UNESCO. The “Procesión de Muertos” was conceived by the artist and created for Chapingo in 1999, and takes place each year at the end of October, to honor the dead of the University community. This event is one of the cultural highlights of Chapingo, and draws crowds of thousands of spectators. The Procession includes over 100 participants, who represent historic and mythical figures of Mexico. It is led by three horsemen, Death, Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa, followed by La Catrina, La Llorona, the Corn Goddess, the God of Death, Moctezuma, Cortez, Nezahualcoyotl, Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Sor Juana, the heroes of the Independence, and many others, including a group of Illustrious Agronomists on stilts, whose busts are placed along the pathway where the Procession passes. Torch-bearing figures robed in black wearing masks of a postclassical skull illuminate the way.  An orchestra walks behind the participants playing a funeral dirge. Upon reaching the rectory building, the participants stand at attention while the list of students, professors and workers who have died during the year is read. The bell is tolled after each name, followed by a minute of silence. Then the solemnity is broken by lively music, and the participants perform a joyous dance. The public is invited to observe the large “ofrenda” in the patio of the museum, which is dedicated each year to a different indigenous community, who are invited to place an ofrenda in their traditional manner. A sculpture panel of a Tzompantli, or wall of skulls serves as a backdrop for the ofrenda.

“Quema de Años” and sculpture relief panel “Tlaloc”

     This ritual was conceived by the artist as a graduation ceremony designed for the Chapingo Autonomous University, an institution dedicated to agricultural education. It draws from prehispanic rituals dedicated to Tlaloc, god of rain and maximum deity of agriculture, and from the new fire ceremony which was celebrated every 52 years. A sculpture relief panel of Tlaloc is the backdrop for the ritual, which takes place in the patio of the ex-hacienda. Participants receive a bundle of 7 corn stalk fragments, representing the years of study at the institution which are now concluded. These are cremated in one of the 7 ceramic burners placed around a pool of water at the base of the panel. Then each student receives a flower and ascends the stairs to the top of the pyramid shaped structure behind the image of Tlaloc, and from the “summit” tosses the flower into the water below, as a token of gratitude for the knowledge received and to propitiate a fruitful harvest for the future.

“Xilonen” ceremony and sculpture relief panel

      The artist designed the ceremony to welcome the new generation of students who enter Chapingo each year. Xilonen is one of three corn goddesses revered by the Mexica. She represents the young plant at its fertile stage. Her fiesta was celebrated in ancient times during the month of July, which coincides with the entrance of the incoming generation. A sculpture panel representing the goddess was designed for the ritual. During the ceremony a prehispanic dance group re-enacts the sacrifice to honor the goddess as described by the early Spanish chronicles. The new students receive new ears of corn harvested from Chapingo’s experimental fields in a symbolic feast, and receive grains of corn of the sacred landrace varieties treasured by Mexico’s indigenous people as talisman for their long period of study which is about to begin, reminder of the legacy of their ancestors.    

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