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Jeffrey Kent '10 Show Argues for Marriage Equality as a Civil Right, Feb. 7-March 31

Exhibition Development Seminar Presents "Preach! New Works by Jeffrey Kent" in the Herbert Bearman Art Gallery at Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park

Posted 12.18.12 by mica communications

Jeffrey Kent '10, "Have Forgot...," acrylic, collage, slave-picked cotton, metallic confetti on canvas, 2012.

BALTIMORE--In Preach! New Works by Jeffrey Kent, a solo show curated by the Exhibition Development Seminar (EDS) at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), Baltimore-based artist Jeffrey Kent '10 (LeRoy E. Hoffberger School of Painting) uses racially charged imagery to criticize what he sees as some of the opinions maintained within the black Christian community on marriage equality for same-sex couples. Using painting, collage, sculpture and mixed-media installation, Kent draws parallels between the Civil Rights Movement and the recent fight for marriage equality in the United States. The exhibition will take place Thursday, Feb. 7*-Sunday, March 31 in the Herbert Bearman Art Gallery at the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park (1417 Thames St.).

"This [body of] work explores the premise that Americans, who fought to achieve justice and equality, now deny it," Kent said.

Kent fills his canvases with layered fields of garish color juxtaposed with elements of mixed-media collage, including authentic slave-picked cotton from antique chairs. Kent's sculptures employ chairs, some precariously balanced atop stacks of books, so that the harmony of form is in direct contrast with the provocative materials, including adult magazines, slave-picked cotton, a Bible and prayer rugs. In Have Forgot..., Kent depicts stylized figures of iconic black archetypal characters protesting against marriage equality. References to slave-picked cotton, jumping the broom, the slave trade and other aspects of black history create a compelling dialogue in his art.

"Jeffrey Kent's evocative body of work is relevant to the changing political and social atmosphere in the United States concerning marriage equality," said Abigail Parrish, EDS student co-curator and spokesperson. "In Preach!, Kent, as an alumnus of the Exhibition Development Seminar himself, collaborates with EDS students to establish a groundbreaking exhibition that will touch and affect the Baltimore community."

Kent's portrayal of a legacy of inequality in American history is complemented by the exhibition location: the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park. The venue is a national heritage site that celebrates the lives of Frederick Douglass, a slave who became an abolitionist, and Isaac Myers, a national black leader in the labor movement.

Born in Boston, Kent's creative expression began in his youth through his dedication to community service as a way of sharing his ideas and learning to set goals for success. Kent has said, "My art focuses on soliciting the viewer to critically reflect upon circumstances of contemporary life." The artist identifies himself as straight but believes all people deserve equal rights.

In 2003, Kent founded Sub-Basement Artist Studios, an alternative underground artist studio and gallery space located in downtown Baltimore, which was named Best Art Gallery by Baltimore City Paper in 2005. Kent, both a MICA and EDS alumnus, was awarded Best Visual Artist by Baltimore City Paper and featured in the Ten Best Baltimore Artists list by the Examiner, both in 2008.

EDS is a yearlong MICA course in which students examine the curatorial process by working collaboratively with the assistance of professional mentors to research, plan and produce a major exhibition.

The exhibition at the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park is open Monday-Fridays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; and Saturday-Sundays, noon-4 p.m.* Admission: No entry fee for MICA students with ID; a donation is otherwise requested.

To visit the exhibition website, visit preachjeffreykent.com. A catalog is scheduled to be released in coordination with the exhibition opening.

Preach! New Works by Jeffrey Kent is made possible partially through generous support from the Friends of the Exhibition Development Seminar.

MICA's exhibitions are supported by a grant from the Maryland State Arts Council, an agency dedicated to cultivating a vibrant cultural community where the arts thrive. An agency of the Department of Business & Economic Development, the MSAC provides financial support and technical assistance to non profit organizations, units of government, colleges and universities for arts activities.

*Editor's note: The opening date and venue hours have been updated. This information is current as of December 2012.


Image caption: Jeffrey Kent '10, Have Forgot..., acrylic, collage, slave-picked cotton, metallic confetti on canvas, 2012.

Founded in 1826, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is the oldest continuously degree-granting college of art and design in the nation. The College enrolls nearly 3,500 undergraduate, graduate and continuing studies students from 49 states and 52 countries in fine arts, design, electronic media, art education, liberal arts, and professional studies degree and non-credit programs. With art and design programs ranked in the top ten by U.S. News and World Report, MICA is pioneering interdisciplinary approaches to innovation, research, and community and social engagement. Alumni and programming reach around the globe, even as MICA remains a cultural cornerstone in the Baltimore/Washington region, hosting hundreds of exhibitions and events annually by students, faculty and other established artists.

Accompanying Programs

The below accompanying exhibition programs are free, open to the public and taking place at the exhibition venue: Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park, 1417 Thames St.

Preach What You Love Opening Reception
Thursday, Feb. 14, 6-9 p.m.
Want to experience an alternative Valentine's Day? Come to the opening reception, Preach What You Love, to enjoy refreshments and wine, participate in bridal shower-related activities and meet artist Jeffrey Kent.

Artist Talk
Thursday, Feb. 21, 6-9 p.m.
Jeffrey Kent will speak about his inspiration, process and exhibition experiences with Preach! New Works by Jeffrey Kent.

Community Chat
Saturday, March 9, 5-7 p.m.
Using brief video clips about marriage, religion, race and equality as a starting point, the Community Chat encourages a moderated open discussion amongst organizations, community groups and people of opposing viewpoints, including churches, colleges and LGBT organizations. Popcorn and cotton candy will be provided to help create a light atmosphere during a town hall style conversation.