Mary Kavanagh is a professor in Art Studio and MFA/MMus graduate program chair at the University of Lethbridge, Canada. She has exhibited her work in over 60 solo and group exhibitions, and is the recipient of numerous awards, grants and residencies. Kavanagh is a member of the Atomic Photographers Guild, an international collective of artists dedicated to making visible all aspects of the nuclear era.
Combining moving and still images, drawing and installation practices, Kavanagh’s work addresses the vulnerable body in the context of material culture, toxic ecologies and state violence. Since 2005, she has researched and documented activities and ephemera at historic and active nuclear sites in Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Alaska, Japan and Canada.
Atomic Suite (2010-12) established her exploration of the psychosocial spaces shaped by the nuclear age, beginning with the most prominent legacies of the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos. An artist residency with the Center for Land Use Interpretation in Wendover, Utah (where the crew trained to drop the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki) enabled direct access to historic sites such as WWII hangars, bunkers, bombing ranges, munitions igloos and craters, as well as opportunities to document contemporary combat training by U.S. Marines for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The resultant exhibition reflects on the historical rupture marked by the use of the earliest atomic weapons, as well as 21st century constructs of war.