Gitterman Gallery in New York presents an exhibition of contemporary work by Klea McKenna.
The exhibition presents McKenna’s most recent work Generation alongside work from two of her previous series Automatic Earth and Web Studies. With each series, McKenna uses the photogram process innovatively to create unique gelatin silver prints that contain both vivid detail and ethereal abstraction. She pays homage to her subject’s histories while re-animating them through her engagement, revealing nuance, depth and energy.
Unlike a photograph created with a camera, a photogram is a one-of-a-kind object that involves physical contact between a subject and the light sensitive printing surface, representing the mark of that interaction. McKenna emphasizes the physicality of this process and builds on it by forcing the paper to record texture as well as light. Working in near darkness she applies pressure on her subjects to physically imprint their texture into the photographic paper and then selectively exposes the paper to light creating what the artist calls “photographic reliefs.”
With Generation, McKenna applies this method to textiles and women’s clothing that is rich in the legacy of touch: from the labor of their making, to the textures of the designs, to the marks of continual wear. She chooses objects from different cultures that have often gone through transformations from generation to generation. Her choices are guided by the histories of these textiles and the stories they reveal of migration, cultural appropriation, and women’s labor and sexuality. For McKenna, her process “is driven by my desire for haptic communication with women from a time and place different than my own…With each alteration, mending, and use, someone has inscribed themselves onto these textiles. Just as each garment was made through the patient labor of one woman’s body, so is it undone that way, worn-down slowly, deconstructed, or cannibalized to make something new.” With this in mind, the work fully embodies the dual meaning of its title, Generation, as both a reference to the passing of time and the creation of things.
Klea McKenna – Generation
September 12 – November 10, 2018
41 E 57th St, New York, NY 10022