Sunday, February 08, 2015

Come to the Edge

“Come to the edge," he said.
"We can't, we're afraid!" they responded.
"Come to the edge," he said.
"We can't, We will fall!" they responded.
"Come to the edge," he said.
And so they came.
And he pushed them.
And they flew.”
Guillaume Apollinaire

The above quote hangs on the studio wall of New American Realist artist Dale Kennington. For each of her paintings of everyday life is a journey into the unknown. Using a camera as her sketch book, Kennington works with anything from five to 20 photographs to create her fictional versions of people’s interactions in a variety of settings ranging from restaurants to Klan meetings.

As the publicity for Kennington’s 2011 University of Louisiana exhibition, Mythologies stated “Through the lens of everyday events and situations, Dale Kennington’s Mythologies represents observations of mundane and common experience which are often overlooked and unconsidered by society. By selecting apparently insignificant moments in time, Kennington explores personal and universal mythologies found in contemporary American society.”

At the age of 21 with a degree in fine art under one arm and a freshly minted husband under the other Kennington began teaching figure drawing at Auburn University’s art department. A decade and half later, spurred on by the desire to paint portraits of her own children, she took up child portraiture and soon had a sizable client list amongst friends and neighbors.

In her early 50’s, Kennington abandoned this gentile occupation. Retreating into her studio, Kennington proceeded to start creating the works that would ultimately bring her the recognition that she enjoys today. Employing the chiaroscuro style, the play of light and dark lighting effects made famous by Caravaggio and Rembrandt, Kennington creates contemporary visions of the human condition often with surreal overtones.

In her late 60’s Kennington embarked on a new venture. During a curatorial studio visit by the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts the idea of painting folding screens was floated. Kennington embraced this new direction for her work and over the next two and a half years produced ten screens with contrasting depictions of the same subject on each side.

Now as she approaches her 80th birthday Kennington continues to work in her studio and hold exhibitions. The latest, Real Lives: Observations and Reflections by Dale Kennington, is currently on show at The Mennello Museum of American Art until the 7th of June.

No comments: