Chicago-based multidisciplinary artist Karen Yates has developed an expanded international practice that includes performance creation, stage direction, writing, acting, digital sound art, and social engagement. Her live ensemble performance pieces and digital sound work focus on U.S. and international issues—current and historical—especially as they relate to economic hierarchy and power. The Chicago Reader has called her “[one] of the city’s most transgressive theater artists.” Her directing work has been cited as "masterful," "driven," "vibrant and kinetic," "delightful," and "evocative." She has worked with Oracle, American Theater Company, RhinoFest, TUTA, among other companies.
From 2010-2014, Yates was the Associate Artistic Director of Chicago Opera Vanguard, an adventurous hybrid opera company, and directed the workshop of their new opera about the gay literati of 1950s New York, The Suitcase, in Chicago and Belfast, Northern Ireland.
In 2014, she spearheaded "Chicago Dream House," a socially engaged project with fellow 3AP artist Lindsay Hopkins about foreclosure and housing in Albany Park that connected artists, residents, and activists through the building of a symbolic house. Her 2012 digital sound project American Bacchae Infrasonic, based on her original play, was an official selection at the 8th Annual International Streaming Festival of Audio Visual Art, based in The Hague, The Netherlands. The work was also exhibited at Xin Wang's The Gallery in Beijing, China, and received an Albert P. Weisman Award from Columbia College Chicago.
Yates received her BA in English from the University of Iowa and was a member of the undergraduate Writers Workshop in Fiction. In 2012 she received an MA in Interdisciplinary Arts, Columbia College Chicago.