Andrea McKenna Art
Photo by Anna Ryabtsov
What happens between the time we take our last breath to arriving at our final destination? This is the fundamental question that informs my work.
For me, the grieving process is crafted into something visual. Creating imaginative answers to the questions; “is there an afterlife and what does it look like?”
I was sparked by this interest at a young age. It was my desire to be an artist so that I could articulate my thoughts visually. It wasn’t until I was deeply affected by a series of sudden losses that my work began to emerge with a new purpose.
And with this purpose came the introduction of new materials that craft these in-between bodies. Those elements become part of my dialogue--texturing parts of the figure, creating a resemblance of a body that is torn apart, crafting scars, enabling light to peek through, exposing the energy that exists there. While I use physical materials, the figures themselves are spiritual and speak a narrative of their own existence.
I work with burlap, layering Limestone plaster with stains and acrylics while occasionally employing metal leaf. I use chains or rope to secure the pieces to driftwood that I find in my travels to the seashore. This gives the work an anchor.
My hope is to transport viewers to another place and to introduce them to figures that are not of this world, but perhaps of an “in-between” world. My works represent a spirit forming, traveling to their final destination--shedding all their earthly worries and carrying with them, their new found inner light.
From Curator Lucy Rovetto:
Andrea McKenna is a designer of spaces and moods, and her new one-person show: Disintegration is no exception. McKenna subtly challenges the viewer to face the truth about living, that is, living with loss. For this “Installation,” McKenna adds the effects of fire to her layers of burlap, plaster, cheesecloth, stain, acrylic, and welding slag. In her unapologetic way, the artist invites us to go to our dark places as on a search through rubble after a tragedy. Hidden in the layers of burlap and mystery, we locate all that is precious and powerful in this artist’s work.
From Gallerist and Curator Kathy Imlay:
Andrea McKenna’s painted tapestries are meditations on identity, loss and the realm of the beyond. On large swaths of burlap with frayed edges, ethereal female figures emerge and recede at once. Her palette of earthy greens, muted blues, and rust, evokes the deep sea which the artist describes as another universe as mysterious as death. The works are hung with rope from found driftwood, and appear as apparitions suspended between the wall and the viewer.
Conceptually Andrea’s work is about the process - that of becoming and of what happens when we are no longer. The materials she works with and her technique are an integral part of the message she wants to convey.
Layering Limestone plaster, with stains, and acrylic, then scraping her surfaces to near translucence, the artist states, “You can see and also touch the figure being transformed from its mortal existence. Texture is a reminder of the once physical body that was three dimensional, now dissolving back into energy, which light can pass through.”
Reminiscent of Byzantine icons, the figures are often punctuated by metal leaf halos, and eyes with a penetrating gaze.