The Things of Marcus Kenney's Studio by Gabe Wise
I love visiting artist's studios.
Recently, I had the opportunity to visit artist Marcus Kenney's studio in Savannah, GA, in preparation for his January exhibition at Florida Mining. I spent time with his family in their home, toured his studio, and came to a far better understanding of what his work is about: passion.
Marcus grew up an avid drawer, and he told me that by the time he was a young teenager, he had amassed a collection- piles of hundreds of sketches and illustrations from at that point, the past decade. While he would occasionally sell them to friends for 25 cents a piece, he lost the majority of them in a house fire that destroyed all of his belongings when he was 14 or so. As he mentioned, he was not saddened by this loss, but instead excited for what the future may bring.
Watching Marcus and his wife, Sarah, interact with their children, I was struck by a comradry and love in their household. The next day, with these themes in mind, I was struck by the same passionate feelings in his studio. In all of Marcus's work, the value of a lost and repurposed item is stressed. These "things" join together on a canvas or panel to play the same role that a bicycle would play in a child's youth. Things not important because they're physically referential, but because they played a role in someone's story. The thing is not the evidence of the story, but the story is the evidence of the thing.
While Marcus has obsessively collected materials for use in his work, he has obsessively collected stories. Stories revealed through characters, developed or undeveloped. Characters that are full of passion, though they may not have the "things" to prove it, characters gifted the opportunity of rebirth and reinvention.
Here are a few photos of the cool, clever, and deceivingly complex characters that fill Marcus's studio.