Kathryn Desplanque, PhD is a queer mixed Black multigenerational immigrant, a daughter of the Caribbean, the Netherlands, and Canada, living on contingent visa status in the Southeast US.
She is UNC Chapel Hill's assistant professor of 18th and 19th century European art history. Her research centers on the many ways in which the emergence of capitalism affects artists and the art world. Her teaching is deeply inspired by the strategies proposed by bell hooks. She has over a decade's experience in creating and delivering arts programming in museum settings. She has curated exhibitions of historical and contemporary art. She is a mixed media visual artist working in 2d-ish work and installation, and she is poet and a fiction and nonfiction writer. She chairs the board of directors for an artist run non-profit and she has served on multiple diversity and accessibility committees for academic societies.
Kathryn Desplanque's artwork builds universes on the edge of this one's expansion where the laws of nature are wobbly and unrecognizable. Drawing on Platonic forms, deep sea animals, fungi, and theoretical physics she imagines places that border on the inconceivable and unknowable, macroscopic or microscopic, the alien. Her exotopias - alien, outsider landscapes - imagine states of nature beyond human comprehension and absent of humans ourselves.
In response to her experiences of racism and racial liminality, misogyny, queerphobia, immigration, abuse, and assault, her exotopias reify the fruits of her disembodied imagination, emancipated from a world where her body and identities are contested and oppressed without her consent and in violation of her self-sovereignty.
Kathryn's process is spontaneous and intuitive. She riffs on her imagination in the jazz tradition, finding joy in the infinite expansiveness of time and space; in pushing her imagination to the boundaries of perceivability and conceivability.
Her work taps into the long-standing tradition of the diasporic fantastical: the necessity of imagining elsewheres to process the theft of at-homeness; to imagine emancipatory alternate realities in a world where liberation is so distant and the path to it heavily obscured. Kathryn draws on afrosurrealist and afrofuturist traditions and the macro and micro rhythms of new Black feminism's cosmic painterly channeling, which ranges from Octavia Butler to Chanda Prescod-Weinstein to the Black Panther movies to Alexis Pauline-Gumbs, from bell hooks to roller rink culture, from blerds to the movie Fast Color.