Carol Anne McChrystal’s materially-driven sculpture practice uses chemical processes and labor-intensive hand-making to explore the legacy of colonialism and trade, as well as the ways in which the climate catastrophe has compounded these histories of inequity. Inhabiting the tension between Earth’s immense history and the absurdly mundane everyday experience of plastic, her practice consolidates the painstakingly hand-made with mass-produced consumables in order to pry open a speculative space in which to resist the means-ends rationale of late capitalism.
Her recent sculptures concentrate on the ancestral handicrafts of her two island homelands of Ireland and the Philippines. Influenced by time spent in familial homelands witnessing the role that globalized industry plays in the dissolution of cultural practices, these works take the form of plaited floor mats traditionally made from local plant fibers. Informed by constructs of home and her own family migration story, she hand-weaves these objects from non-traditional materials like blue tarpaulins, single-use beverage bottles, discarded plastic wrappers and other products of oil extraction that she collects from specific landscapes. Using material and method hand in hand, these works are a meditation on how extractive industry and climate catastrophe impact local experiences of home and shelter.
Carol Anne McChrystal’s sculptures have been exhibited in Los Angeles at Mata Gallery, Avenue 50 Studios, and Adjunct Positions, and internationally at D21 Kunstraum (Leipzig) and Horse & Pony, (Berlin). She has participated in several residency programs, including Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Sitka Center for Art & Ecology, and Burren College of Art and her arts writing has been published on platforms like Art Practical. In 2021, she was a recipient of the Mozaik Foundation Ecosystem X, an award which recognizes artists using contemporary art as a medium for social change. Carol Anne received her MFA from California College of the Arts, and she is currently based on unceded Tongva land, where she also organizes with GABRIELA, the progressive Filipino women’s group.
As part of the collaborative duo Nightmare City, she has created immersive environments that have been exhibited at Alter Space in San Francisco, The Luminary in St. Louis, and Horse & Pony in Berlin among others,and has shown video works at Essex Flowers in New York, MASS Gallery in Austin, and ACRETV in Chicago. Their work has been written about in publications such as ArtForum and Modern Painters.