Marcus Kenney (b. 1972) was born and raised in rural Louisiana and currently lives and works in Savannah, GA. He earned an MFA from Savannah College of Art and Design in 1998. Kenney has had solo museum exhibitions at the Jepson Center at the Telfair Museum in Savannah, the Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, GA, and the Masur Museum of Art, Monroe, LA. Two person and group exhibitions include MOCA GA, Atlanta, GA, and museums, institutions, galleries and art fairs internationally, including Israel, Paris, London, Montreal, New York, Boston, Chicago, Kansas City, St Louis, Minneapolis, Miami, Portland and New Orleans. Kenney was also featured in the 2004 New American Paintings Southern Edition. Earlier activity includes inclusion in the Georgia Triennial 2003 and 2002 (a traveling exhibition highlighting a select number of Georgia artists), as well as the exhibition “Georgia Seven” at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Atlanta, GA, 2004, curated by Radcliffe Bailey. His bibliography includes Art in America, Art News, Oxford American, The New York Sun, The Boston Globe, Art Papers, New American Paintings, South Magazine, and National Public Radio, among others.
Kenney’s latest solo show at the gallery, his seventh since 2004, Dreams River, is an installation of sculptures that expands Kenney’s visual language past the narrative collages and mystical taxidermy creatures that he is recognized for. Kenney's exciting new assemblage sculptures continue to incorporate his signature weathered found objects evoking storied histories. The recent inclusion of neon in the compositions intensifies the physicality of the dimensional objects while also lending an elegant minimalist presence. Likening this new body of work to poems, the individual pieces give contemplation to the ideas of time, memories, loss and also offers glimpses of hope. Through his alchemistic logic of combining seemingly random materials, including neon, fishing nets, pitch forks, and rope, to name a few, Kenney has added another chapter to his ever evolving book of poetry.
Kenney’s group of sculptures absorb and intuit the ebbs and flows of the coastal region of his home in Savannah. Literal marks of shared history and circumstances deeply rooted in the landscape and it’s people form sculptural webs. A native of Louisiana, he has held tightly to his roots, but after twenty-five years on Savannah, the content of the Low Country finds it’s way into his work. Each singular sculpture is a narrative island connected tangentially by line and form to the others, as if alter-like portraits, each one with it’s own storied history. Each surface, with it’s scores and scratches, splashes, stain and scars, whether made of board or fabric, signage or netting, seems to reference the painted surface without the ahistorical newness of paint. The artist’s gritty, story-emanating compositions have been referred to in the vein of the “Southern Gothic”and described alongside terms such as reclamation, alchemical, or vintage- aesthetic. All of this remains relevant while this latest body of work employs neon lighting, adjusting toward a slightly more minimalist approach. A buoy, for instance, may be present as much for it’s color, markings, and formal weight as it is included for what it is per se or even what it represents. It was once something and it is something different now; past and present in one. The works in this exhibit are simultaneously 2D and 3D and are as much painting as they are sculpture.
Marcus Kenney Review in ArtsATLTK Smith, Arts ATL, November 20, 2019
Shawne Major and Marcus Kenney in BurnawayKimberly D. Jacobs, Burnaway, November 29, 2016
Marcus Kenney Review in ArtsATLDonna Mintz, Arts ATL, May 24, 2016
Marcus Kenney in the Atlanta Journal ConstitutionFelicia Feaster, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, May 10, 2016