Oates has a B.F.A. from the Rhode Island School of Design and a M.F.A. from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is a Fulbright Fellow for graduate study at Edinburgh College of Art in Scotland.

Oates has had solo shows in NYC at Susan Eley Fine Art, The Arsenal Gallery in Central Park, The Center for Book Arts, A4L Gallery, Henry Street Settlement and A Taste of Art Gallery and locally at Tomasulo Gallery in New Jersey, Real Art Ways in Connecticut, Sara Nightingale Gallery in Water Mill, Long Island and the Sol Mednick Gallery at the Philadelphia University of the Arts. Oates has had solo shows nationally at Anchor Graphics, Artemisia Gallery and Woman Made Gallery in Chicago and internationally at Galerie Joella in Turku, Finland.

In 2018-2020 Oates had a solo show at Black Cat Artspace in Toronto and was part of group shows in the Toronto area at Black Cat Showroom, The Gladstone Hotel, GAS Art Space, Propeller Gallery, John. Aird Gallery, The Papermill Gallery, Arta Gallery, 1313 Gallery, Artscape Wychwood Barns Community Gallery, Neilson Park Creative Centre and Connections Gallery.

In 2014, work by Oates was featured in group exhibitions at Sohn Fine Art in Massachusetts, at City Without Walls in Newwark, NJ, Artspace, New Haven, CT, Bridgeport Art Center in Chicago, IL, Diane Kidd Gallery at Tiffin University in OH and internationally at the Kurbas Art Centre in Kiev, Ukraine.Oates's work was reviewed in the Sunday Star New Jersey Ledger for "Layers" at City Without Walls and her work was selected for Artists Studio by curator Jill Conner.

In 2013, Oates was part of group shows in NYC with Associated Gallery, NYC, Curate NYC at chashama and Rush Art Gallery, NYC, Irreversible Magazine, Florida and at 23 Sandy Gallery and Keirnan Gallery in Portland, Oregon. Work by Oates was also part of group shows at 440 Gallery and Pierogi Gallery in Brooklyn, Islip Art Museum in Islip, NY, Bob Rauschenberg Gallery in Florida, The Housatonic Museum in Connecticut, McNeese State University in Louisiana, Black Box Gallery in Oregon, Unsettled Gallery in New Mexico and at Abcedarian Gallery in Colorado. Work by Oates was recently featured in Posit 1: A Journal of Literature and Art.

In 2011-2012, Oates was part of group show at Denise Bibro Fine Arts, NYC, the Edward Hopper House in Nyack, NY, Momenta Art Gallery in Brooklyn and was part of an exhibition curated by The Humble Art Foundation with the Magenta Foundation for the Flash Forward Photography Festival in Boston, MA. Work by Oates was recently selected for the Art in Embassies program in Muscat, Oman and Oates was part of group shows at The Aqua Art Fair Miami, The Scope Art Fair NYC, Susan Hensel Gallery, Delaware Center for Contemporary Art, F(r)iction Project in Brooklyn and at the Gwen Frostic School of Art Gallery in Michigan. 

Oates has been in numerous group exhibitions at venues including Momenta Art, Flux Factory, Wave Hill, International Print Center, Storefront for Art, Proteus Gowanus, Nurture Art Gallery, Elizabeth Heskin Contemporary, Gallery Aferro, Metaphor Contemporary Art and The Center for Book Arts and internationally at the Royal Scottish Academy & Open Eye Gallery in Scotland, Open Studio Gallery and Spin Gallery in Toronto, Galerie Joella and Turku City Art Museum in Finland, Swinton Art Centre and University of Northampton Art Gallery in England  and at NEME and The National Centres of Contemporary Art in Russia and Cyprus.

Oates’s work has been featured or written about in numerous blogs and publications including the Phaidon Club Online Magazine, Bomb Blog, the Tampa Review, Diffusion Magazine, NY Arts Magazine, The Riverdale Press, St. Petersburg Times, the Daily Constitutional, Zingology Online Arts Magazine, Drain Journal of Contemporary Arts, Livraison Rhinoceros, Front Magazine, The Village Voice, Umbrella Magazine, The Southampton Press, the Chicago Reader and Art Squeeze. 

In February 2009, Oates's work was included in "Trouble in Paradise" curated by Julie Sasse at Tucson Museum of Art in Arizona which includes work by Mitch Epstein, Kim Keever, Richard Misrach, Edward Burtynsky and Thomas Ruff and was part of group shows at the Aqua Art Fair and and C. Emerson Fine Arts in Florida and in NYC at Randall Scott Gallery, Michael Mazzeo Gallery, Collective Gallery 173-171, The Pool Art Fair and The Bridge Art Fair.

In 2008, Oates photographed in Newfoundland, Canada and in Beijing, China. Oates has attended residencies at the Ragdale Foundation in Illinois, the Caldera Foundation in Oregon, and The Taipei Arts Village in Taiwan. She is the recipient of several awards including two Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs Grants, an honorable mention for Hey Hot Shot from Jen Bekman Gallery and an Artists Grant from Artist Space in NYC. 

Oates’s work is in the private collections of Susan Bode-Tyson, Lise Curry, Bill Groom, Natalie Domchencho and Mark Waskow and her works on paper are in many public collections including the National Museum of Women in the Art, The Brooklyn Museum Artist Book Collection, The British Library, The Walker Art Center Libraries, The Smithsonian Libraries and Franklin Furnace at MoMA.