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Calgary
Sandee Moore
Kevin McKenzie at The Moose Jaw Museum & Art Gallery
March 21, 2018

Ghost and God, the first piece in Regina artist Kevin McKenzie’s exhibition Resurrection at The Moose Jaw Museum & Art Gallery, is so transparent that it is almost immaterial. A violet circle of electrified gas rings a bison skull cast in clear resin and affixed to a large Plexiglas crucifix. It’s a provocative assemblage. “I wanted the viewer to come away thinking whose God is stronger: the Indigenous God or the Christian God,” explains McKenzie, “But it became a fantastic marriage or union of spiritual icons.”



Kevin McKenzie, The Triptych is Father, Son and Holy Ghost II, 2017, liquid plastic, carbon fibre, neon

The spiritual icons of the bison skull and the crucifix became a personal language for the artist to explore his hybrid identity. In her essay accompanying the exhibition, Daina Warren argues that the works are self-portraits, reflecting McKenzie’s spiritual education in the Catholic school system followed by an exploration of his own background and Indigenous cultural practices.

McKenzie’s decision to work with modern materials like plastic is a challenge to the notion of authenticity. Plastic, whether employed by the artist or in mass-produced kitsch, reflects neither the glory of God nor that of nature. The 12 Apostles, a sculptural installation comprised of twelve polyurethane cast bison skulls, introduces a third culture to the dichotomy of European culture and Indigenous culture: sub-culture. McKenzie’s skulls are adorned with metal crosses, paint splatters, mesh, glow-in-the-dark Jesus figurines, and black paint. He recasts the salvation-seekers as young proselytizers of punk and Goth bedecked in dangly earrings, oversized jewellery, nail varnish, and all-black ensembles. Glowing with red and blue LEDs and fluorescent paint, these sculptures literally and figuratively light the way with their radically non-hierarchical inclusion of the sacred with the profane, crude, and cheap.


Kevin McKenzie:
 Resurrection 
continues until April 29.

Moose Jaw Museum and Art Gallery: http://www.mjmag.ca/
The gallery is accessible.


Sandee Moore is a nationally exhibited artist, arts administrator, and occasional art writer. She can be followed on Twitter @SandeeMoore.

 

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