The gallery is pleased to present the New York solo debut of American artist Michael Jones McKean. Functioning as a central location – where things are collected, moved, and absorbed – McKean’s work explores states of in-betweenness; the spaces between experience and perception, understanding and meaning, fantasy and reality, success and failure.
The Discipline of Astronomy and Wind, an ambitious sculptural project, is comprised in part of: a handmade replica of the helmet worn by Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto, a paper mache version of the helmet worn by Russian cosmonaut Boris Volynov, Mississippi silt in the shape of a blob with a hole in it, a 30 lb. meteorite that fell through a house, a handmade wooden replica of a 1987 Promax J-1 Super Jumbo Boom Box, a monochrome handmade Dwight Gooden jersey from 1986, four-finger rings spelling LOVE and HATE made of basswood and gold leaf, a full size throne, paper mache houseplants, a mid-century modernist shelf, a large plank of walnut, a 1967 McCullough chainsaw, and fragments from the Teignmouth Electron, which is an infamous boat that failed in an attempt to circumnavigate the earth.
With this exhibition, McKean continues to articulate the poetic potential in objects, materials, their arrangement, and the possibility of a larger narrative or allegorical structure. Appealing to our imaginations while seeking to re-articulate our ancient involvement with forms, meaning, representation, and poetics, McKean compresses artifacts of power (a throne, a massive boom box, and a chainsaw) and epic failure (boat fragments, a Dwight Gooden Jersey, a conquistador helmet, relics from Russian space disasters, and allusions to modernist aesthetics) with natural materials (Mississippi slit, a meteorite, a wood plank, and clay). The resulting sculptures skid across time by gathering disparate objects into unifying constellations.
A sampling of the artist’s past projects include: the discovery of the longest possible route around the earth, which was realized after two years or research and discovery, in collaboration with The University of Kansas’ Geography and Cartography; a series of ongoing rainbow experiments conducted throughout the Mid/Southwest using sunlight, holographic stickers and water supplied artificially by agricultural equipment, utility pumps, paint sprayers, pressure washers, and commercial car washes; and an elaborate handmade forty-foot cross-section of a 19th century riverboat. In late 2006, the artist visited Cayman Brac, a small island in the Caribbean to research the Teignmouth Electron, the infamous 40’ trimaran sailboat involved in a failed solo attempt to circumnavigate of the earth without stopping in the late 1960’s. The boat was beached on the island for over 25 years slowly decaying with the elements until August 2007, when the artist legally purchased the boat from its owner.
Michael Jones McKean (b. 1976, Truk Island, Micronesia) lives and works in Richmond, VA. He received a MFA from Alfred University, Alfred, NY and a BFA from Marywood University in Scranton, PA. A recipient of numerous awards, Michael has been granted fellowships and residencies at The Core Program at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center; The Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts; Central Michigan University as the Stephen L. Barstow Fellow; and The Archie Bray Foundation. He recently received the Nancy Graves Foundation Award in 2005 and the Artadia Award in 2006. He has also received The Jeanne C. Thayer Fellowship in the Arts along with four State Arts Commission grants including an Emerging Artist Fellowship. His recent solo exhibitions include Diverseworks, Houston and Grand Arts, Kansas City, MO. His work will be featured in upcoming solo exhibitions at the University of Illinois, Springfield; Threewalls, Chicago; and Project Gentilli, Prato, Italy. The Discipline of Astronomy and Wind is the artist’s New York solo debut.