Kate Cheney Chappell Art Space

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Brief Bio

Kate Cheney Chappell was born Katherine Pope Cheney in Hartford, Connecticut, the daughter of George Wells Cheney, Jr., an insurance executive, and Mary Frances Pope, a trained artist and champion of the visually impaired. She spent her childhood in Manchester, close to her paternal grandparents, many cousins, and the family business, Cheney Silk. At the age of 12, she and her family moved to Farmington, Connecticut, and she entered the Oxford School for Girls (later Kingswood-Oxford School). With encouragement from Art teacher, Rebecca Jones, she entered and won a Gold Key in Connecticut's Scholastic Art Competition, and was in her first show at age 14. Kate Cheney Chappell attended Chatham College in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (now Chatham University), distinguishing herself in Art, Creative Writing and French Literature. Read more ...

While at Chatham College Kate co-founded an alternative drama group that wrote and performed original plays, and was co-editor of the Yearbook. She spent her Junior Year in Paris with the Sarah Lawrence College program, studying painting, drawing, and etching at L'Atelier Goetz, literature at the Sorbonne, and poetry translation with Ives Bonnefoy, a French poet and translator of Shakespeare.

Ms. Cheney married Thomas M. Chappell in 1966, and moved to Maine in 1968, where the two co-founded Tom's of Maine, maker of today's leading natural toothpaste and pioneer in environmental, social, and fiscal responsibility. They raised five children in Kennebunk, and helped start an alternative school, where Ms. Chappell taught art and reading. In 1980, Ms. Chappell returned to finish her college degree at the University of Southern Maine, where she graduated in 1983, summa cum laude. She began having shows of her watercolor landscapes in the Portland area, and later moved to Monhegan Island, to join the art community there. In the 1990's she attended the Charles River Studio Workshop in Cambridge, MA. Continuing studies at Maine College of Art, USM, and Haystack (Deer Isle ME) revived her interest in Printmaking and mixed media work. She joined Peregrine Press, a fine arts co-operative in Portland, showing with that group of 30 artists as well as regular representation at Mast Cove Gallery in Kennebunkport, and the Lupine Gallery on Monhegan. Of Ms. Chappell's solo exhibit at the Round Top Center for the Arts (Damariscotta ME), Art New England (2004) praised "her prowess as a printmaker, her willingness to take esthetic risks, and her ability to tap the creative forces of other artists." The New Britain Museum of American Art (New Britain CT) is featuring Kate Cheney Chappell in their NEW/NOW Gallery, from March 7 to May 25, 2008, in a show of installations, monoprints, and 3-dimensional mixed media wall pieces, titled "Inner Terrain."


I believe that art-making is a sacred act. Martin Heidegger defines the holy as "that dimension of existence through which there is illumination of the things that are…a creative act at the point of engaging the Nothing." Since the death of both parents, I find myself struggling with the ultimate questions of my existence and purpose on earth. More and more, I am aware of our need as humans to connect with the earth and know ourselves as part of a web of being. Alienation and denial are lending to unprecedented degradation of what envelopes and sustains us: the air, soil, water, plants and creatures on which we depend for life. I invoke this essential interdependence in: "Earth Envelopes" which I have been making since 2002. Read more ...

The Earth Envelopes begin as flat, full sheets (22x30") of Rives BFK paper that I print as monotypes, then paint and collage over, and fold into womb-like shapes that hang on the wall. Each has references to the elements, to creatures, to genetic information, or to growth patterns. Earth Envelope VI: Evolution, is one of these. Vessels, smaller in size and closed at both ends, like the wooden "double-enders" early islanders used to fish from, have a continuous visually connected line running through them all.

Drawing and painting have always been ways I engage with the natural world. I am also a person with likes to explore the boundaries between traditional forms. I like to put poetry and monotype together, collage and watercolor, make artist's books, experiment with installations. Inspiration has come from visits to stone circles in England and Wales, reading poetry, looking at "Li", the Chinese study of dynamic forms and correlations in nature (e.g., the similarity of a single brain neuron and the branching habit of a tree). Most of all, Monhegan island remains my soul place. There I am surrounded by sea, alone with the waves, doing the little acts of a simpler way of life, painting all day on the cliffs, or singing at night in community with others who love and live and work on the island.


Kate has received honorary degrees from The Univeristy of Southern Maine, Colby College, and Chatham College. She graduated with a B.A. degree from the University of Southern Maine in 1983, and has also studied at the Haystack School of Crafts, The Sarah Lawrence College program at the Sorbonne in Paris, at the Maine College of Art, and with several other artists. Her work has been seen in shows at the New Britain Museum of American Art, CT, The Round Top Center for the Arts, ME, Harvard Divinity School, MA, and the Farmington Art Guild, CT, among others. In 1986 she received a Best of Show Award, and in 1995, 1998, 2000, 2005, and 2008 she received Honorable Mentions, and in 2011 The Patron's Prize from the Kenebunk River Club Annual Juried Show. For a complete downloadable resume click here.