Sakhile&Me, Frankfurt / Main
Kevin M. Demery (b. 1992)
MFA School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 2018
BFA California College of the Arts, 2014
As a painter and sculptor, my research has been primarily looking at intersections of North American history and signifiers of power while also traversing collective nostalgia. To achieve this, I’ve structured a visual language that employs many sculptural techniques while simultaneously referring to a plethora of painting histories.
One of my recent works entitled I Heard God Laughing exemplifies these interests and how I manifest them in a variety of ways. The piece is larger than the life-size black painted silhouette of the head of George Stinney Jr., a wrongfully convicted African American teenager, and the youngest person to be executed in the United States. The neck of the head has a black metal collar around it with cut conduit pipes hanging. Together these pieces form a wind chime that omits a soft and ominous tone that conjures the nostalgia of this kitsch object while communicating a vast history of subjugation and victimization. The title of the work comes from the 14th Century Persian poet Hafiz and a collection of poems of his dealing with hope and joy amidst fear and adversity.
This way of working is a purposeful attempt to make each work into a snippet of poetry. The paintings I have created alongside these sculptural works are primarily composed of collage and assemblage with a bold elementary palette. All of these moves are a way at evoking a child-like familiarity while also pointing to contents of significant historical weight.