Emily Kennerk, 37, often explores the concept of "number one-ness": Years ago, she displayed together the country's top movie, CD and book. The combo of "Titanic," the "8 Mile" soundtrack and the Bible provided an intriguing window into the American psyche.
Several of her shows have focused on housing — not surprising, considering how she spent childhood weekends in Indiana. Her father, a land developer, loaded his six kids (Kennerk was No. 3) into the station wagon. He promised them ice cream, but only after they'd tooled around looking at land.
"I probably knew zoning codes before I knew my times tables," Kennerk said. She also learned how a home or business could imbue meaning on a patch of nothing.
The day Kennerk ran across the abandoned home in her neighborhood, she snapped a photo and began brainstorming: In Las Vegas, the foreclosure notice had become as omnipresent as a stop sign, diluting its symbolic power. How could Kennerk, who teaches sculpture at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, present the hallmarks of the housing crisis in a different way?
When she first discussed the project with the Contemporary Arts Center, a small gallery in a gentrifying section of downtown, Kennerk was apprehensive. But director Wendy Kveck was interested in works that carried "emotional weight," even if they were melancholy.
"There is a concern in aestheticizing misery as opposed to confronting it," Kveck said, but she felt the bleakness of Kennerk's work reflected Nevada's woes.
"It has a ghostly quality," she said. "It's a solemn space, almost like a memorial." (LA Times)
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