The Shroud Cycle – “Who is My Avatar?”
Exhibit Location: Cyr Gallery
About the Work
Since about November of 2020 I have been experimenting with creating inkblots on rice paper and trying to “see” imagery within these blots in order to create, on top of or within the blots, paintings or drawings. In the Fall of 2022 I inadvertently blotted two sheets at once, which I had not realized were stuck together, accidentally creating “multiple prints” or duplicates of what was initially an irregular, asymmetrical ink blot. My attraction was quickly drawn towards configuring symmetrical or mirrored arrangements of these multiples. I then found that I wanted to make larger groups with other blotted multiples as larger compositions to paint on or within. The challenge then became a straightforward task, to set up symmetries through a chance-like process and discover how my lexicon of motifs could fit into or offset these symmetries.
Among my many motifs is a blond haired, muscular Jesus figure. For me this motif engages problematic alignments of Western Christianity with white or Euro Supremacy and is a desirable motif for me to deconstruct. After painting this motif into a grid of symmetrically arranged ink blotted paper I saw an immediate relationship to the accidental symmetrical pattern of stains, tears and burns created on the Shroud of Turin as a result of it having been folded in storage. Thus was initiated an idea for a cycle of work which I now conceived of as the “Shroud Cycle”.
For the Shroud “Cycle” I would create themed groupings of “ink blot” based pieces with each group fitting an exhibition venue. “Who is My Avatar?” at the Cyr Gallery of the Bangor Public Library, would explore vertical compositions of primary figures. “Let There Be War” at Zoot Coffee would include wide panoramic arrangements of horizontally reflected patterns that suggest the theater of battle. “O Earth” at the Sohns Gallery would consider the suggestion of the earth as a subterranean final resting place or a current repository for an endless array of human made structures or waste products.
I grew up in Poughkeepsie, New York 100 miles north of NYC. After winning the Charles A. Burchfield Scholarship for Art during my senior year in high school, I attended Pratt Institute in Brooklyn in 1976. Upon graduation I found myself confronted with a burgeoning neo-expressionist art scene in New York City’s East Village and much of the artistic activity was played out as artist organized shows in various nightclubs and alternative spaces.
In 1994 I moved to Maine with my wife and two children. I soon thereafter joined the Union of Maine Visual Artists and helped organize several political art actions. In 2000 I was invited onto the board of directors of Waterfall Arts, in Belfast, Maine, in which I served on for 10 years. In 2017 I was awarded a mid career Esther and Adolph Gottlieb Foundation Grant.
Coming of age in the late 70’s in a post Vietnam world I began my art career truly believing that we would never fight a war again thanks to the activism of the 60’s. I was one of the men born between ‘57, and ‘59, who were completely exempt from Selective Service registration. The aerial bombardment of Iraq in 1991 took me by surprise and began, for me, a gradual realization that I had experienced, unknowingly, the interim of a cultural/political shift between a draft military to our current all volunteer military. Thus began a desire to evolve my aesthetic to change and take on more relevant content. Much of my work has since gained an activist perspective in order to begin identifying and defining emerging moral calculi and has led me to explore more specifically; language, graphic or cartoon-like imagery and a schematic color palette.
Archive of works: https://www.artworkarchive.com/profile/kennycolearchive