Kennedy Yanko is a Brooklyn-based sculptor who works with metal, marble, wood and acrylic to expose the beauty in the abject. Learning more about her materials’ urban pasts has encouraged Yanko to repurpose metal and change our experiences with it by altering the way it participates in a space.  Her paintings, which she calls ‘skins’ result from various paints being poured into one another, forming intriguing color stories and beautiful shapes. To push her practice further, she now pairs the ‘skins’ with rubber, metal, rock, marble and found objects to produce abstract, physically-commanding sculptures.  Many of these materials she sources locally in Brooklyn and all over the city.  Yanko states, “I work in metal because it’s available and beautiful, but really it helps me understand gender fluidity, and not having to be pretty. The less I try to do that, the more sharp edges I show, and the better the work becomes.” By embracing found objects for their simultaneous qualities of strength and deterioration and contrasting the malleable character of paint skins with hard metals and more enduring objects like marble, Yanko asks viewers to specifically question the ephemeral nature of material pursuits, as well as their organic dualities.

Kennedy Yanko’s project is an exercise in editing and decision-making, inspired by the most literal form of cut and paste collage. It is a deliberate effort in distorting consciousness and redirecting attention such that new perspectives may emerge. These perspectives develop in the cracks, in the space, in the air between elements that are put in conversation with one another.


By juxtaposing her paint “skins” with natural “elements” like metal, marble and glass, Yanko challenges our associations of the materials presented. She acknowledges the cohesion and fragmentation of their unique physical properties and ultimately it is in this dichotomy where Yanko finds their strength.


In her installation, monochromatic skins denote specific emotions. It is the uniformity in color that allows these diverse materials to find cohesion and speak strongly to one another. As the dialogue unfolds, the skins remain soft and supple in the presence of sharper metal counterparts. The materials’ ability to gesture towards each other is the result of Yanko’s physical and abstract gesturing, or “painting,” of these pieces. Her process requires both hard labor and finesse in the handling of heavy metals and in the nurturing of paint. Although born of different methods, Yanko finds that the relationship between metal and paint is inherently complementary.