Today we’d like to introduce you to Kevin Demery.
Kevin, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I’m intrigued by objects and images that convey histories about African American folklore and trauma. This is due in large part to my adolescence. I was raised in the Seminary district of East Oakland, California where it was common to see collections of trash and decaying furniture scattered in the streets.
The atmosphere was riddled with political inertia, often exacerbated through poverty and violence. Amidst this environment, I developed an interest in the tableaus of detritus I encountered. These abstract moments of recognizable iconography, interwoven with broken transmuted relationships in form, had a profound effect on my artistic development. Augmenting this relationship, I also draw a great amount of influence from minimalist and post-minimalist structures. In result of these origins, I create works that become a mélange of cultural signifiers and formal moments of contemplation.
Now I make paintings and sculptures that reference urban decay and childhood development. My objects and compositions are in constant search of stories that are left behind.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
Much of the work I make sits on the borders of painting and sculpture. Triangulating biography, American politics, and images related to African American trauma, I have developed a language that employs iconography and subtleties in tandem. One of my past works, “Power Lines (1)”, 2017, was inspired by seeing electrical lines used to honor deceased members of my community through the hanging of discarded shoes. The work draws on concepts of memorials through racial subjugation, religious imagery like stained glass, and jute rope to replace power lines. Alternatively, other works I make have direct responses to art historical narratives. My piece “We Aren’t Supposed to Love Each Other Anyways,” 2016, is an apart of a series inspired by Robert Morris’s “Untitled (Corner Piece),” 1964. In this work, I borrow the gesture of fabricating a plywood triangular corner piece while interjecting a narrative of trauma in using a destroyed image of Fred Hampton, prominent martyr of the 1960’s black power movement. This gesture, combined with the minimized scale in comparison to Morris, I force the viewer to stare down at the object as if it were a headstone or backed into a corner away from prominent view.
I produce work through these different modes as a way of referencing the ever-changing nature of history and as a way to honor forgotten or suppressed histories.
The sterotype of a starving artist scares away many potentially talented artists from pursuing art – any advice or thoughts about how to deal with the financial concerns an aspiring artist might be concerned about?
I would tell them to look into artist resource forums. Many artists need an extra few months of support or even a year to get to where they need to be and resources like residencies, grants, and teaching opportunities can afford them just that!
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
To see my work, please follow my Instagram page, @weighted_by_gold and visit my website, kevindemery.com for updates on shows I will be in! I will also be showing in this year’s Expo Chicago art fair. Any inquiries about my work or can be sent to my email directly at firstname.lastname@example.org!
- Website: kevindemery.com
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @weighted_by_gold
All images can be credited to kevindemery.com