kentucky college of art and design

Installation

Feature: Vinhay Keo's Confront at Moremen Moloney Gallery

On March 1, 2018, Louisville Visual Art Honors The Stars Among Us, a luncheon event which will recognize artists and patrons in four categories:

Vinhay Keo - Rising Star Award - In Memory of Bob Thompson
Wilma Bethel - Visual Art Educator Award - In Memory of Anna Huddleston
Porter Watkins - Benefactor of the Year Award - In Memory of Charlotte Price
Elmer Lucille Allen - Legacy Award - In Memory of Julius Friedman

This review, reprinted with permission, discusses Vinhay Keo's fall 2017 solo exhibit in Louisville. 

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Confront – Vinhay Keo

Moremen Moloney Gallery
September 15 – October 14, 2017

Review by Keith Waits. Originally published by Arts-Louisville in October 2017.

Entire contents copyright © 2017 Keith Waits. All rights reserved.

Louisville has a thriving visual arts scene, but it lacks a meaningful representation of installation work with the artist’s personal involvement. It happens in other cities, but most exhibition spaces here tend to traffic in fairly traditional presentations. Academic galleries tend to come closest to fulfilling this need, but even they offer such programming intermittently.

Vinhay Keo is only a little more than a year out of the BFA program at Kentucky College of Art + Design at Spalding University (KyCAD), and Moremen Moloney Contemporary Gallery is hosting his first solo exhibition, Confront. The Cambodian-born artist here follows up on his work from the school’s 2016 BFA exhibit, some of which is included here.

Like many artists at this age, Keo is preoccupied with identity. His experience of moving to Bowling Green Kentucky and searching for a place in a smaller American community is realized through a monochromatic aesthetic in which the artist is continually surrounded, nay, overwhelmed by the color white. The Moremen Moloney environs, a renovated home, provide an interesting format by forcing the elements into individual rooms. Keo himself stands in the center of the first room on the left, motionless and silent, naked from the waist up, his lower half wrapped in white fabric and his neck adorned with a stiff white collar from which emerges a long white tie. The tie transitions from broadcloth to a twisted cord that reaches out of the room, across the hall and into the opposite room, where it disappears into an enormous, multi-peaked mound of confetti that is, of course, white.

The hallway displays photographic images printed on aluminum, five of which are specifically created for Confront, and several others that are from his time at KyCAD and the BFA exhibit. In the live installation, Keo’s brown skin is rich and warm in contrast to all of the white. The interior décor is analogous to the austerity of Keo’s imagery, and he has dusted his natural skin tone with white powder on his shoulders.

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In the photographs, Keo is mostly covered in white make-up, even graying his black hair, or wearing white clothes. His mouth emits viscous white fluid filled with suggestiveness, and in the most striking picture, he appears to vomit a profusion of confetti.

We can draw from all of this that Keo has spent an inordinate amount of time and energy trying to fit into a Caucasian world and that the effort very likely confused the artist’s own sense of himself, his own individual identity. Subsumed by a culture of Bible-belt social mores and backyard barbecues, and with, what we must presume, was a surfeit of similarly brown-skinned neighbors, what degree of denial and willful ignorance must have colored Keo’s own view of himself?

That quality of isolation is pointedly conveyed in this performance installation, set as it is in a high-end exhibition space that draws a well-to-do, predominantly white audience. As Keo stands, stone-faced, the viewers move around him sipping wine and blithely commenting on the artist and his work as if he weren’t within earshot. Is this a replication of Keo’s early life in Bowling Green? The Cambodian boy as the Other? Not fully a citizen and therefore not deserving of full social embrace? If so, Keo has provocatively forced the viewer to be complicit in realizing his statement.

The expression of his thesis is highly intellectual, but the imagery is emotionally charged. And if one stands in the room with Keo, listening to the self-satisfied chatter surrounding him, it is not difficult to empathize with his position. We might expect an artist coming from this experience to put forth a message of protest; to plant his feet and demand recognition for who they are and not who society forces them to be, but Keo codifies his biography into a savvy recognition of his repression.

This reading is reinforced when we consider that Keo is Gay. While it doesn't seem the most important aspect of Keo's projected alienation, at least not in the context of this installation, he references another level of repression in a covert photographic image in which he blocks the view of his genitals with his hands, his entire body, of course, covered in white.

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Keo has made clear that the overabundance of shredded paper makes reference to the relentless documentation of personal history in the United States. How many bureaucratic forms has Keo filled out in his journey thus far? We are all burdened with such baggage, and it is now a largely digital repository of personal data, but Keo’s paper trail is undoubtedly greater than that of most law-abiding native-born citizens.

As personal as the entire project is, it also strikes a universal chord for all immigrants who come to America as People of Color and/or people for whom English is a second language, and perhaps many others who might not as easily match those descriptions. This positions Confront as one of the more important exhibits of the moment, a commentary that speaks to the chaos in American society, the worth and importance of the immigrant in that chaos, and the very core value of diversity that lies at the heart of the United States of America.

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Painting

Student Showcase: Emily Meredith

"Red Scarf" by Emily Meredith, Oil on canvas, 16x20in, 2016, $250

"Red Scarf" by Emily Meredith, Oil on canvas, 16x20in, 2016, $250

To be a college student is to be exposed to the larger world through academia; to say it is a formative experience is, of course, a gross understatement. For some, the particular details of their upbringing might provide an even more pronounced contrast in the experience, as they are suddenly exposed to elements that that dramatically expand their frame of reference.

“Growing up in a religious family,” explains Emily Meredith, “I wasn’t exposed to many worldly things. My parents were very protective and conservative so the idea of the naked body was not something discussed around the house. When I came to college, I took figure-drawing classes to study the human body and how it sat in space. I grew to love the curves and angles of the figure.”

Meredith is certainly not the first art student to fall in love with the human form, but her work still expresses that inevitable sense of wonder and discovery that comes from exploring what is essentially the truth of our own existence. One’s own body is taken for granted; the last thing we see when we look in the mirror is beauty and mystery, being mired in the daily trappings of hygiene and fashion.  Meredith’s work here is grounded in the expected but nevertheless compelling life drawing studies, but she has begun to investigate the humanity contained within the body through abstracted imagery of body parts and character illustrations.

“I am inspired by the colors and techniques of figure painters like Lucian Freud and how he captures the details and vitality of the human tones. I also try to use simplistic color shapes like that of Lena Rivo and Gideon Rubin to find form. The movement of Duchamp’s futurist paintings influences some of my other works. My artwork is focused around the experiences of my life and the emotions that I feel, and my pieces are an expression of how I perceive the world around me.”

"Beauty marks" by Emily Meredith, Mixed media, 5.5x9in each, 2016, $60 each or $350 for the series

"Beauty marks" by Emily Meredith, Mixed media, 5.5x9in each, 2016, $60 each or $350 for the series

“The Beauty Marks series is based on the idea that our body flaws make us who we are. They have stories behind them and they show us how time has passed. I wanted viewers to see their insecurities as strengths and beautiful parts of themselves.”

Meredith will be a part of the May 2018 Senior Thesis show at the 849 Gallery at Kentucky College of Art + Design at Spalding University.

Age: 21
Hometown: Crestwood, Kentucky
Education: BA candidate in Painting and Drawing with a concentration in Illustration at Kentucky College of Art + Design at Spalding University (Spring 2018).
Instagram: @emmeredith14

"Pounding" by Emily Meredith, Oil on masonite, 16x20in, 2017, NFS

"Pounding" by Emily Meredith, Oil on masonite, 16x20in, 2017, NFS

Back in a Blue Chair" by Emily Meredith, Oil on canvas, 20x24in, 2016, $350

Back in a Blue Chair" by Emily Meredith, Oil on canvas, 20x24in, 2016, $350

"Paper bag" by Emily Meredith, Oil on masonite, 30x40in, 2015, NFS

"Paper bag" by Emily Meredith, Oil on masonite, 30x40in, 2015, NFS


Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2017 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.

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Drawing

Student Spotlight: Annalise Fegan

"Adikia" by Annalise Fegan, pencil, digital, 8.5x11in, 2017, NFS

"Adikia" by Annalise Fegan, pencil, digital, 8.5x11in, 2017, NFS


God created man (human) kind in His own image - that’s Christian belief. Whatever else you believe, it is difficult to argue that the Greeks invented gods in humankind’s image; a parade of richly drawn characters that reflect the nobility and indignity of humanity. The best of us and the worst us, for the gods were just as capable of petty jealousy and recrimination as their human creators, and it could be argued that the Greeks were explaining away their own frailty by imaging that even a deity might have feet of clay.

Annalise Fegan is a fine art student in the midst of creating a series of drawings that do the same thing for contemporary American society:

“This particular body of work combines my drawing style with my interest in mythology, as well as bringing in a critique of the modern world. These drawings are part of a series where I reimagined the Classic Greek pantheon, replacing figures like Zeus and Aphrodite with lesser mythological figures, such as Adikia, the goddess of injustice, and Phthonos, who represents jealousy. The purpose of this work was to create a pantheon of deities that represent what is really ‘worshipped’ in America. There is Plutus, god of wealth, Aergia, goddess of laziness, Eris, goddess of discord, among others. These figures are less well known, though clues to their characters have been incorporated into their design. Color was also chosen based on association with respective traits.”

"Phthonos" by Annalise Fegan, pencil, digital, 8.5x11in, 2017, NFS

"Phthonos" by Annalise Fegan, pencil, digital, 8.5x11in, 2017, NFS

 

Fegan is inspired by illustrations from children’s literature. “I was particularly fascinated with myths and fairy tales. One of my favorite painters is John William Waterhouse, an English Romantic painter, because his work features mythological figures. Several children’s book illustrators, including Jan Brett, Maurice Sendak, and Doris Burn have influenced my drawing style.”

The mix of English Romanticism and Classical Mythology that Fegan mines from Waterhouse is a curious but potentially intoxicating aesthetic with which to frame social commentary in the 21st century. It is unique for this moment, to say the least, so perhaps Fegan has already passed the first crucial hurdle in maturing as an artist.

 

Hometown: Stanford, Kentucky
Education: 2014 – current, BFA candidate, Drawing and Painting with a concentration in Illustration, Kentucky College of Art + Design at Spalding University, Louisville KY

 

Scroll down for more images

"Aergia" by Annalise Fegan, pencil, digital, 8.5x11in, 2017, NFS

"Aergia" by Annalise Fegan, pencil, digital, 8.5x11in, 2017, NFS

"Aergia" by Annalise Fegan, pencil, digital, 8.5x11in, 2017, NFS

"Aergia" by Annalise Fegan, pencil, digital, 8.5x11in, 2017, NFS

"Plutus" by Annalise Fegan, pencil, digital, 8.5x11in, 2017, NFS

"Plutus" by Annalise Fegan, pencil, digital, 8.5x11in, 2017, NFS


Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2017 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.

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Photography, Fiber, Installation

Vignette: Sarah Kinslow

"Parachute Room" by Sarah Kinslow, 25x14in, still frame of cinemagraph (2016), $100 |  BUY NOW

"Parachute Room" by Sarah Kinslow, 25x14in, still frame of cinemagraph (2016), $100 | BUY NOW

Artists change over time. As a student in LVA’s Children’s Fine Art Classes, Sarah Kinslow was adept at highly detailed pen & ink drawings, the highlight of a portfolio that earned her a scholarship. Now in art school, she has shifted into fiber as a medium: “From a young age I was introduced to the art world via textile crafts such as crocheting, knitting, embroidery, cross-stitch, and many other processes. This was part of my everyday life and it impacted the trajectory of my career path early on. Through these processes I have been able to express myself and look to other artists following the same lines.”

Like many artists that work with fiber, Kinslow has an acute awareness of the history and heritage of these techniques as, "woman's work" or as menial household activities that, however important to daily life they might have once been, they were not by any means considered art.

“I want my work with textiles to give the viewer a different perspective, and provide them a place visually or physically to see that these realities are not what we may perceive them to be. They are to question what impact they themselves have on to the pieces, such as my installation work, and what their presence does to the work and their impact on their own reality.” 

Who wouldn’t welcome the opportunity to revisit the tent forts of their childhood? Kinslow’s installations are at once modern and traditional, anachronistic yet cozy. By building space that invites a viewer to sit in quiet contemplation, she explores the layers of meaning in the word “comfort” and reconnects us to the fundamental touchstones of family with a sure sense of place. The larger cultural associations can run even deeper, with the universality of a tented enclosure found in enough history to provide a common thread of understanding.

Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
Age: 20
Education: Currently a student at the Kentucky College of Art and Design at Spalding University, Louisville, Kentucky for a BFA in Painting/Drawing and Pre-Art Therapy.

"A Place For Contemplation #2" by Sarah Kinslow, 30x20in, digital photo of installation (2016)

"A Place For Contemplation #2" by Sarah Kinslow, 30x20in, digital photo of installation (2016)

"Exploration #4" by Sarah Kinslow, 6x10in, monotype dry point print (2016)

"Exploration #4" by Sarah Kinslow, 6x10in, monotype dry point print (2016)

"Fluidity" by Sarah Kinslow,  20x14in,  digital print (2016)

"Fluidity" by Sarah Kinslow, 20x14in, digital print (2016)

Sarah Kinslow (2016)

Sarah Kinslow (2016)

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Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2016 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.

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