Coming from distinctly different methodologies, McKendree Key and John Stoney apply obsessive practices to produce works which engage the viewer in a dialog about contemporary consumer culture, the imprint of civilization on the vastness of nature and the scale of our existence in relationship to the world in which we live.
An active participant in exhibitions in galleries, cultural institutions and public outdoor art installations for the last five years, McKendree Key’s work has been presented at Socrates Sculpture Park, The Sculpture Center and ICA Philadelphia. Her installations, frequently documented in editioned photographs, juxtapose the expansiveness of the natural landscape with the uniform rigidity of vast quantities of man-made objects. In her most recent body of work, completed while a resident artist at CUE Art Foundation, Key investigates the fate of massive quantities of consumer goods – sneakers, televisions, traffic cones – that are lost in transit while crossing the Pacific Ocean. Informed by oceanographic studies, Key has reimagined the gyres (swirling masses of currents) that have swallowed these objects in a whirlpool of water and debris. With numerous water images derived from a single illustrated children’s book, Key has created a striking series of collages and a stop action video and that are both beautiful and haunting – a reminder of the precarious relationship between the earth’s environment and our own acquisitive nature.
John Stoney’s work “explores the scale in which we live our lives in relation to the physical and temporal scale of nature.” In striving to visualize the enormity of the world that we inhabit, Stoney creates awe-inspiring sculptures and drawings that are obsessively conceived and meticulously made. His artistic practice is a culmination of the desire to perceive the symbolic space between “what we know and what we can understand”.
From an exact scale model of a pre – 9/11 New York City skyline, painstakingly hand-carved from a one inch thick pine plank, to an exact replica of the Empire State Building, made from over 10,000 individually hand-embossed pieces of paper, (each no bigger than a half inch square), Stoney’s level of craftsmanship is astonishing. Equally important, and concurrent with Stoney’s level of craft, is the subtle humor and irony of his work as seen in his 9 foot long casting of Niagara Falls and his highly detailed drawings.