Campus Life

Lasting Images - Rita McKeough

Rita McKeough was born in 1951 in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. She received a BFA from the University of Calgary and a MFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design before settling in Calgary, where she currently teaches at the Alberta College of Art and Design.

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Rita McKeough, Two Urban Scroungers, 1984. From the University of Lethbridge Art Collection; Gift of the artist, 1994.

McKeough has been a committed multi-disciplinary artist for over 30 years, and has exhibited extensively in group and solo exhibitions across Canada and internationally, including exhibitions at the Walter Phillips Gallery (Banff), Plug-In Gallery (Winnipeg), Nuit Blanche (Toronto) and the National Gallery of Canada. In 2009, McKeough was the recipient of the Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts, and the following year was selected for the Alberta Biennial of Contemporary Art at the Art Gallery of Alberta.

McKeough's practice is informed by her interest in social issues, idealism and a belief in art's ability to spur social change. Her performances and installations – often complex, collaborative efforts – touch on issues such as displacement, domestic abuse and ecological damage. Though her subject matter is often politically charged, McKeough opens a dialogue with the viewer through a disarming sense of humour and play.

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Rita McKeough, Urban Uprising, 1984. From the University of Lethbridge Art Collection; P.U.L.P. print gift, 1984.

McKeough's Urban Scroungers multi-media piece creates an interactive environment for the viewer through sound and sculptural objects, and points to McKeough's concern over urban sprawl and the voracity of corporate expansion.

McKeough's newest installation, The Lion's Share, is on view in the University of Lethbridge Main Gallery until Jan. 5, 2012.

This story first appeared in the December 2011 issue of the Legend. If you'd like to see the full issue in a flipbook format, follow this link.