McKeough was born in 1951 in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. McKeough completed her BFA at the University of Calgary in 1975 and her MFA at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 1979. She currently teaches at Alberta College of Art and Design and resides in Calgary, Alberta. McKeough was the winner of a 2009 Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts and received the 2014 Canada Council for the Art International Residency at Artspace Sydney in Australia.
McKeough's practice ranges from performance, media, installation, and often a combination of such media. McKeough has stated the imperative for taking action and fostering a situation for activating agency through her practice: "In my work, it’s not about speaking for anybody, but wanting to create or imagine situations or a society where everyone has a voice and speaks from his or her own position." Much of her work is a call for action by creating a space for introspection, curiosity, humour and awareness. McKeough brings to attention various spectrum of social issues, including the oil industry and its impact on the ecosystem, meat production, human-animal relations, violence against women, and silenced female voices within private and public institutions.
Veins is an interactive environmental installation presented at TRUCK Contemporary Art in Calgary, Alberta in 2016. Veins follows and builds on issues explored in her most recent works, Wilderment, Alternator, The Lion’s Share and H. This work is motivated by McKeough’s sense of unease as it relates specifically to the ongoing planning and construction of the oil and gas pipelines being built across a fragile and vulnerable landscape. This work will look broadly at the sheer complications, multiplications and furtherance of the risks we take. The questioning of these processes will perhaps have an opening, and another layer of understanding of the vulnerability and complexities of the natural landscape.
Oh, Canada: Contemporary Art from North North America, organized by the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), is the largest survey of contemporary Canadian art ever produced outside Canada. Comprising more than 100 artworks by 62 artists and collectives from across the country, Oh, Canada is huge in both scale and scope. This unique collaboration will encourage dialogue, debate, and a deeper understanding of local, regional, and national contemporary practice.
"H" was a performance that took place in an old barber shop in Sackville, New Brunswick from July 24 to August 2, 2014. Residents of Sackville were requested to bring their "sick" (i.e., outdated) cell phones to the temporary emergency hospital set up in the barber shop, where, in tiny hospital beds, they were attended by a larger-than-life squirrel and a tree that used a variety of techniques to help the cell phones recover. The public could visit recovering cell phones or simply watch the process.
The Lion's Share, 2012
University of Lethbridge Art Gallery, 2012; Doris McCarthy Art Gallery, Scarborough, Ontario; Dalhousie Art Gallery, Halifax, 2013 , Kenderdine Art Gallery at University of Saskatchewan, 2014 and Illingworth Kerr Gallery at Alberta College of Art and Design, Calgary, 2014.
Art Gallery of Alberta, Timeland: Alberta Biennial of Contemporary Art, 2010; Neutral Ground, Solo Exhibition, May, 2013
2008, Nuit Blanche, Toronto; 2009, ArtCity Festival, Calgary; 2009, Art in the Streets Festival, Lethbridge; 2012, Oh Canada! Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, Boston.
Inspired by French feminist writers Hélène Cixous and Luce Irigaray and the punk icon Patty Smith, McKeough created a ninety-minute operatic performance/installation with a six piece choir, two solo vocalists, three musicians, six dancers, a prerecorded audio tape and slide and video projections. Audience and performers were engulfed by a large wooden figure. The work was created to foster a collective, tangible voice to women's anger.
This work, created with her collaborator Cheryl L'Hirondelle, was an installation and performance at the Glenbow Museum in 1993. Here McKeough and L'Hirondelle literally chewed through the museum walls to expose eight concealed audio tapes. The work poignantly created a dynamic between domestic abuse and empowered the female agency that recovers silenced voice.
McKeough's work is included in many public and private collections including Canada Council Art Bank, Ottawa; Glenbow Museum, Calgary; Walter Phillips Gallery at The Banff Centre; Banff, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge; Dunlop Art Gallery, Regina
McKeough is also a musician. She has played drums/percussion for a number of bands, including Sleepy Panther, The Permuters, Sit Com, Mode d'Emploi, Almost Even, Demi Monde, Confidence Band, and Books All Over the Bed.