How Might Illustration Be Queered?
I approached the RCA2020 looking for work that questions the grammar and norms that much visual communication naturalises. Queerness can be an expression of sexuality but it is also a way of being in the world that ‘is at odds with everything around it’. Queerness embraces failure, dead ends and melancholy. It is a refusal of clarity. To queer illustration is to respond to illustration and its histories in ways that question beauty, forward progress and the value of happiness. A queer illustration would seek kinship with images and modes of communication that have been previously discarded, dismissed or misunderstood. Queer illustration is enmeshed in ‘multiple and complex systems of relation’. A queer illustration regards ‘failed seriousness’ as a thing of beauty.
The students I have selected for this collection are those whose work seems to embrace or examine failure; to question the grammar of visual communication or to explore new ways of being visual communicators which might question the value of concepts such as authorship, success and progress.
Director of the Illustration (BFA) program at Parsons School of Design, New York City, Catrin Morgan is an illustrator, artist and designer whose practice is concerned with mathematical, architectural and theoretical systems. Catrin has an MA in Communication Art and Design at The Royal College of Art and a PhD from RCA on work looking at the relationship between illustration and deception.
Catrin’s first book Phantom Settlements, an illustrated exploration of the work of Ryan Gander, Jamie Shovlin and Tom McCarthy, produced in collaboration with Mireille Fauchon and design studio Julia was published by Ditto Press in 2011. Her second book, an illustrated edition of Ben Marcus’s landmark of experimental fiction, The Age of Wire and String, was published by Granta Books in 2013.
In 2017 she was invited to produce a limited edition artist’s book, Studies for Studies at Women’s Studio Workshop in Rosendale, New York and in 2018 Jerome's Study a further collaboration with Max Porter was published by Test Centre Books in London. At the end of 2018 Catrin completed a three-month residency as Practitioner in Residence at the Royal College of Art.
Catrin is represented by dalla Rosa gallery in London. Her work has been discussed in The Paris Review, Modern Painters, Elephant, and Frieze Magazine.