Jenkins Johnson Projects is pleased to announce its participation in VOLTA, with solo projects by Devin N. Morris and Kennedy Yanko in the curated section co-organized by Mickalene Thomas and Racquel Chevremont titled “The Aesthetics of Matter.” The curators selected artists who “explore ideologies of collage within their practice as a constructive mode through material, language, text, cultural and personal concepts."
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.
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.
Devin N. Morris combines elements of two-dimensional collage with three-dimensional objects, abstracting domestic environments and shared spaces. Using various materials found within these spaces, the arrangements question how collective use of an object or body informs its future, as well as how intimacy and ownership transform the utility of domestic spaces and extend their mythology. Each familiar object within these environments houses its own presence and is handled as a fully considered work, resulting collectively in a symphonic reconsidered place.
Devin N. Morris is a Baltimore-born, Brooklyn-based artist who has been named by Time Magazine as one of “12 African American Photographers You Should Follow.” He is interested in abstracting American life and subverting traditional value systems through the exploration of racial and sexual identity in mixed media paintings, photographs, writings and video. His works prioritize displays of personal innocence and acts of kindness within surreal landscapes and elaborate draped and constructed environments that reimagine the social boundaries imposed on Black Americans as well as black LGBTQ interactions, platonic and otherwise. The use of gestural kindnesses between real and imagined characters are inspired by his various experiences growing up as a black boy in Baltimore, MD and his later experiences navigating the world as a black queer man. Memory subconsciously roots itself in the use of familiar household materials & fabrics, as his symbolically arranged found and sourced materials are used in familiar and abstract configurings. Looking to buoy his new realities in a permanent real space, Morris posits his reimagined societies as a future place where his characters exist freely beyond contemporary societal marginal classification. Freedom to him is grasped and sustained in how people are allowed to exist in anonymity.
Morris recently exhibited in We the People at the Minnesota Museum of American Art, and took part in a panel discussion at MoMA PS1 titled Radical Edits: Reassessing Cultural Narratives. Morris is also the editor of 3 Dot Zine, which is an annual publication that celebrates the futurity of minorities, in addition to serving as a forum for invited artists to center and elaborate on marginalized concerns. He has exhibited in America and Brazil, with short stories and visual works also appearing in NYU’s ISO Magazine, Nii Journal (London), Picture Newspaper and Packet Bi-Weekly Zine amongst others. He recently hosted the first Brown Paper Zine & Small Press Fair for Black & PoC Artists at MoCADA Museum in Brooklyn, NY in January, and, in collaboration with KAHLON, The Agency, will host the second iteration in Baltimore, MD this April.