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Kennedy Space Center

Carillon houses introspective exhibit


After thinking about the sculptural work of Kevin Kennedy, one can't help but consider the tangential relationship between sculpture and photography. After all, Kennedy is a photographer who makes sculpture. At first, there seems to be no connection. However, if you think more deeply, it makes a lot of sense that a photographer might decide to become a sculptor: Since photographers capture three-dimensional objects in a two-dimensional format, it seems reasonable that a photographer might decide to abandon the flatness of a photographic image and opt instead to make objects, perhaps as an expansion of the self. Kevin Kennedy's pull to "making" things by hand is not surprising, nor is it by accident. When I spoke with Kevin, he informed me that long before photography, he had a background in welding and carpentry, skills he used while working on the northern coast of Alaska. Even his photographic work is often that of construction. He likes to make shadowboxes and large scale photographic constructions. It seems that he's driven to create "built" objects no matter what the medium.

Conveyance, Kennedy's first body of sculptural work, can be seen at the Gallery of the Carillon Building on West Trade Street. The exhibit of 17 striking objects represents four to five years' worth of work, and each piece displays a commitment to craftsmanship. The pieces aren't massive, large-scale sculptures; they're all elegant, some sinuous, others rectilinear, and all quite minimal. I laud the Carillon for its commitment to showcasing exhibits in its entry space, but I can't help but feel that it's unfortunate that we cannot view Kennedy's minimalist aesthetic in a more intimate space. At the same time, I have to admit that the energy of the space provides an interesting counterpoint to Kennedy's meditative works.

For Kennedy, the abstract, minimalist quality of the work is driven by his desire "to let go of the image and find a way to say the most you possibly can with as little as possible." His work is about communication, but not necessarily communication with the viewer. It's more about the magical type of communication that happens within the self -- those moments we've all experienced in which our inner voice kicks in. Kennedy's work is an outer expression of an inner voice.

Not surprisingly, Kennedy's artistic and personal concerns merge in his sculptural pieces, a body of work that focuses on balance, mobility, immobility and fragility. These are metaphorical as well as artistic issues. All of the objects in the show exhibit balance through various means, ranging from an interplay between light and dark to coarse and heavy, smooth and weightless. The objects that display mobility also are immobile, and vice versa. All of the objects in the show display a fragility that their materials belie.

"Touch" looks fragile, but it's crafted of metal and wood that are joined together by pins and dowels. This black and white, snake-like object, which appears to form a complete oval, is about duality and tension. However, if you look more closely, you will see two pointed ends that don't quite touch. Art illustrates life.

As Kennedy explained, "Exile" is a self-portrait of sorts. This piece, featuring wood and carefully crafted strips of metal, resembles a weathered cocoon or a mummified human form. This is about a different type of exile, not a sending away but rather a closing up of the self from others. Perhaps this sounds familiar.

The objects in this show and their titles point to the dualities, complexities and numerous contradictions inherent in all of our lives, and that's precisely what makes them compelling. The pieces in the show invite us to examine the meaning of words, ideas and experiences from all sides and points of view. The show encourages us to redirect our focus inward to achieve personal balance. During the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, visiting an exhibit like Kevin Kennedy's may be just what we need to remind us of what's truly important in our lives.

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