Von Lintel Gallery is pleased to present new photograms from San Francisco based artist Klea McKenna. The exhibition marks the artist’s third solo presentation with the gallery.
In Generation, McKenna applies her method of “photographic rubbings” to textiles from the last 150 years. These unique photograms are made in total darkness by embossing the textured surfaces of handmade women’s clothing onto light-sensitive paper that is then exposed to raking light. This process subverts photography’s reliance on sight and instead depends on touch and pressure to reveal the nuances of these objects beyond what can be seen. Her process of applying pressure - even to the point of the textile’s disintegration - is driven by her desire for haptic communication with women from a generation other than her own.
Textiles have a rich legacy of touch - from the labor of their maker to signs of wear. With every use, alteration or mending, someone has inscribed themselves onto these textiles. Just as each handmade garment was made through the patient labor of one woman’s body, so it is undone that way, worn down slowly over time.
For McKenna, this process is a poetic form of study, simultaneously an inquiry into what one can learn from a physical object - history having inscribed itself into the material - and an acknowledgment of how little one can know from a distance. Through ample research about each garment McKenna seeks to find a fracture, an insight that allows her to re-animate these objects and illuminate them from anew from her vantage point. When amassed, this deluge of imagery becomes a visual history not of the textiles themselves, but of the changing notions of femininity and cultural appropriation.
McKenna’s works are vestiges of moments, of understated, oft-ignored phenomena. More vivid than anything else in the image are the textile’s loose threads; they dance like blind-contour drawings with no referent, appearing as white as a full moon against a night sky. And, like the same moon, with such contrast to all that surround it, it’s hard to tell if these threads are present or absent.
(Vanessa Kauffman Zimmerly, Art Practical)
McKenna was born in Freestone, CA in 1980 and received a BA from the University of California in Santa Cruz and an MFA from the California College of the Arts. Her work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA; Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco, CA; Heckscher Museum of Art, Huntington, NY; Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, CA. Public collections include: Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CA; Mead Art Museum, Amherst, MA; and the US Embassy, Republic of Suriname, Art in Embassies, US Department of State. McKenna lives and works in San Francisco.