In a solo show curated by MICA’s Exhibition Development Seminar (EDS), Baltimore-based artist Jeffrey Kent ’10 (LeRoy E. Hoffberger School of Painting) criticizes what he sees as some of the opinions within the Black Christian community on marriage equality for same-sex couples. Using painting, collage, sculpture, and multi-media installation, Kent creates a metaphorical expression of current political events through racially charged imagery. In Preach!, Kent draws parallels between the civil rights movement and the fight for marriage equality in the United States by exploring imagery of racial prejudice.
Kent fills his canvases with layered fields of garish color juxtaposed with elements of mixed-media collage, including authentic slave-picked cotton. Kent’s sculptures employ chairs, some precariously balanced atop stacks of books. The harmony of form is in direct contrast with the provocative materials, including pornographic 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.
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.
Kent is the founder of Sub-Basement Artist Studios, a alternative art space in Baltimore. His works are in the collections of Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Southern Management Corporation, and more. In 2008, he was named Best Visual Artist by Baltimore City Paper.
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.
Preach! New Works by Jeffrey Kent is made possible partially through generous support from the Friends of the Exhibition Development Seminar.