Press Release

Jenkins Johnson Gallery, New York is pleased to present Say It Isn’t So…., the New York debut of critically acclaimed contemporary artist Kenyatta A. C. Hinkle. Hinkle’s work was shown in The Studio Museum in Harlem’s Fore exhibition, and she was the youngest participant in the Made in LA 2012 biennial at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. Her artwork and performances of experimental texts have been reviewed by the The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Artforum, The Huffington Post, and LA Weekly, and she was a finalist for the 2013 Los Angeles Artadia Award. Say It Isn’t So… will be on view in New York from February 20 through April 5. There will be an opening reception with the artist on Thursday, February 20 from 6 to 8 pm.


Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle is an interdisciplinary, Los Angeles-based visual artist, writer, and performer who is interested having a conversation about the complexities of history and power. Say It Isn’t So… is woven from historical and contemporary narratives that raise questions concerning our collective encounters with the black female body and its relationship to the exotic. The exhibition features a variety of media, including drawings, paintings, text-based work, audio, and video. These pieces explore personal narratives from the artist intermingled with known and unknown historical figures in relationship to notions and constructions of the black female body as a prototype for both exotic beauty and repulsion.


On view will be work that reconstructs narratives of late 19th century and early 20th century West African ethnographic photography taken mainly by French colonialists. The photographs, which were heavily distributed throughout Europe as postcards and carte-de-visites, enforced the construction of the African (and black) female body as exotic and primitive.

Through the embellishment of these photos, Hinkle uses the metaphor of disease to represent colonialism and the poetic interpretation of a virus entering the body. Hinkle interrogates the power dynamics between the gaze, the subject, and the viewer. Her drawings upon these photographs serve as a means to protect, not to consume, the women’s flesh.


Also on view will be Hinkle's body of work inspired by Maryse Condé's book " I,Tituba, Black Witch of Salem" (1992). Conde's historical fiction delves into the story of a woman of color who was a pivotal figure during the Salem Witch Trials. Hinkle is fascinated by how Conde’s reflections on Otherness, racism, gender, sexuality, Diaspora, cultural and religious hegemony, and love intermingle with her own experiences inhabiting a black and pregnant body for the first time. Accompanying this installation will be a collaborative score between Hinkle and performer/composer Kevin Robinson.


Say It Isn’t So... includes brand new video work by Hinkle that will tackle concepts of endurance, vulnerability, racism, and the female body. Featuring imagery like the artists agape mouth for extended periods of time, recreating specific experiences of racism, and addressing the inhabitation and endurance of pregnancy, Hinkle takes her overarching themes and explorations of the black female body and the exotic into the realm of the performative.