Katie Bell USA, b. 1985


“When I find objects and bring them into my work, I’m erasing their previous history, but in another way their history can never be erased. There are always signifiers of where an object came from. I think of spirit as the history that’s embedded in materials. Not spirit as an ethereal connotation, but more of a historical spirit or a historical narrative.”

— Katie Bell

Katie Bell is a multidisciplinary artist renowned for her site-specific installations, which incorporate a mixture of found and fabricated materials, and respond to specific aspects of the space they occupy. Bell’s critically acclaimed oeuvre has established her as a leading contemporary protagonist of Expanded Painting.


Bell has compared the various elements that make up her installations to letters within an evolving visual alphabet. When configured in response to a specific environment, these elements come together in novel ways to create narratives that leave room for interpretation.


After earning her MFA with honors in Painting from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2011, Bell grew her painting practice into a larger examination of what happens when painting expands into additional dimensions. The forms, shapes, colors, lines, and textures in her installations may be read in correlation with a range of familiar formal vocabularies found throughout the history of abstract painting, while the spaces and atmospheres that manifest in the work may relate variously to stage environments, dream space, and fantasy landscapes.


“I’ve always had an interest in abstract painting, especially the Surrealist artist Kay Sage,” Bell says. “I’m also interested in physical materials. I’m drawn to working with textures, pure form, pure material. I’m combining those worlds to create a space of theatricality, where the materials and forms are somewhere between props and performers.”


Bell graduated cum laude from Knox College, Galesburg, IL, in 2008, and earned her MFA with honors from Rhode Island School of Design in 2011. She is a recipient of the Brooklyn Arts Council Grant; the Saint-Gaudens Fellowship; and a Painting Fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts, among others. Her work has been reviewed extensively, including in Artforum, Hyperallergic, Artnet News, Art in America, Artsy, Chicago Tribune, Two Coats of Paint, and Vulture, and has been exhibited extensively in institutions around the world, including Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, Buffalo, NY; Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD; Art Prize, Grand Rapids, MI; Rushgrove House in conjunction with the Royal College of Art, London, UK; deCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Lincoln, MA; Rockford Art Museum, Rockford, IL; and the Renaissance Society, Chicago, IL.