Margaret Kilgallen

Margaret Kilgallen was born in 1967 in Washington, DC, and received her BA in printmaking from Colorado College in 1989. Early experiences as a librarian and bookbinder contributed to her encyclopedic knowledge of signs, drawn from American folk tradition, printmaking, and letterpress. Kilgallen had a love of “things that show the evidence of the human hand.”

Painting directly on the wall, Kilgallen created room-size murals that recall a time when personal craft and handmade signs were the dominant aesthetic. Strong, independent women—walking, surfing, fighting, and biking—are featured prominently in the artist’s compositions.

Her work has been shown at Deitch Projects and the Drawing Room in New York, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and the Luggage Store in San Francisco, Forum for Contemporary Art in St. Louis, and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. Kilgallen’s work was presented at UCLA Hammer Museum. She died in June 2001 in San Francisco, where she lived with her husband, Barry McGee.

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Deep Focus


Curator Courtenay Finn reflects on how Margaret Kilgallen’s work prioritized female figures—from her various inspirations to her monikers—on both canvas and urban facades.


Heroines and Working in the Community

Margaret Kilgallen discusses her process, and her personal connections to the heroines featured in her work.


Influences, Train Marking, and Graffiti

Margaret Kilgallen discusses her influences and the goals she worked towards in her art.