NY STUDIO GALLERY

Ibn Kendall

I went back to the family farm in Jamaica last winter for a change of scenery. I was sorting through the family album and was struck by the photos of my great aunts, uncles and family friends. From the 1940’s to the 60’s, I was amazed to see they’re stellar but delightful expressions in the face of this period in time.  They never had much but possessed the costume and countenance of movie stars. My grandma used to say, “jus because you are broke doesn’t mean you need to show it”. People of color in the colonized world have always had to take the discarded and reinvent oneself and culture to create a sense of pride, a sense of self and plan just survive. Even though things has gotten better there are still many remnants of this alchemist behavior in our country today.  Examples of this creativity can be found everywhere in the culture, like soul food. A title giving because one has to put ones soul into items like pig feet, chicken feet and chitlins (pig intestines) to make palatable.  This resourcefulness does not just exist in the tangible world but also in the intangible world like language.  Taking a word like nigger and changing its context from an ethnic slur to a term of endearment is alchemy.
   
This work is an illustration of this, the ability to make something out of nothing. Bestowed onto people of color by slavery, I call this gift and curse Coon Alchemy.  

My recent work re-enacts this process. Using discarded objects from my neighborhood, I combine them with enlarged photographs from my family’s photo album, who themselves and many other people of color have been discarded and still fight to matter.


Click here for Ibn Kendall's Bio and Past Exhibits


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