RAIR | 2015-16
Kenny Rivero | New York, NY
Kenny Rivero was born and raised in Washington Heights, New York City. He received a BFA from the School of Visual Arts in 2006 and an MFA from the Yale University School of Art in 2012. Rivero has been a guest lecturer at El Museo del Barrio, Williams College, and the School of Visual Arts and a guest critic at The Cooper Union, The Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, and New York University. He is the recipient of a Doonesbury Award, The Robert Schoelkopf Memorial Travel Grant, and has been awarded a Visiting Scholar position at New York University. Other residencies include the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace Program in New York City and The Fountainhead Residency in Miami, FL (forthcoming). Rivero arrived from Brooklyn, NY where he was a Museum Educator at the Metropolitian Museum of Art and an Adjunct Professor in the Visual and Critical Studies department at the School of Visual Arts.
Kenny currently lives in New York, NY
I produce work that offers viewers a chance to reflect on hope, loss, and memory. Through painting, drawing, sculpture, and installation, I create dialogues between these human experiences through stories that are based in both reality and fiction. The stories I tell are urgent and sad, though subtly confrontational.
My process for inventing narratives involves rigorous, and sometimes painful, reflection. Through the lens of my evolving relationship to fear, love, death, intimacy, violence, power, and aloneness, my work addresses themes of Dominican-American identity, socio-geographic solidarity, cultural and familial expectations, race, and masculinity.
The further I understand how these various vantage points inform my role historically as an artist making images, the more I recognize the urgency that motivates me to make. I want my work to communicate an undeniable experience. I don’t wish to create anything that is exempt from critique but my goal is for the work to cause an unquestionable, sublime moment for the viewer, in as raw a way as possible, without spectacle or grandiosity.
In the two dimensional works, I embed and integrate numbers, letters, symbols, structurally impossible spaces, and disembodied figures within a seemingly unhinged composition that begins as a formal exploration of color, light, drawing, and texture. Often, the paintings and drawings become sculptural. From an early age I was always curious about the past lives of objects. As a result I developed a practice of collecting things. Over time, bits of these collections become collage elements in my paintings and the supports for my drawings.
In using reclaimed material, I’m interested in how the energies and identities contained by certain objects can come together to form new things with various pasts and flexible futures. In the installations, I construct freestanding walls and corners that mirror fragments of my childhood home. Within these spaces, I place materials from my various collections in arrangements that are meant to function similarly to Haitian veve drawing or Navajo sand painting, both which are done on the ground.
My sensibility regarding storytelling and materiality owes a great deal to my personal experiences with Santeria, Ifa, and Dominican vodun, in which objects serve as evidence of, or access points to, a parallel space-time that is not readily visible.
Every object speaks to a reality. In treating my work as evidence rather than a collection of art things, they become objects of homage and proofs of stories never told.