A Technicolor Textile Work Woven With Totems of Queer Existence

One standout piece from Brian Kenny’s latest solo exhibition sees the New York artist stitch underwear waistbands, numbers from his sports jersey collection, and symbols of teeth into a vibrant banner that’s both autobiographical and improvisational, marking a high point in his spirited exploration of queerness and American identity.

Brian Kenny in front of “Collectively” (2021), on view as part of his solo exhibition, I’MMATERIAL, at TW Fine Art in Brooklyn. Photography by Rachel Cabitt

Here, we ask an artist to frame the essential details behind one of their latest works.

Bio: Brian Kenny, 38, Brooklyn (@briankennny)

Title of work: Collectively (2021). 

Where to see it: TW Fine Art (514 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn) as part of my current solo exhibition “I’MMATERIAL” until August 7.

Three words to describe it: Composite, tactile, upcycled.

What was on your mind at the time: The artwork itself doesn’t concern a particular narrative as it’s all improvised using scraps of fabric, often leftovers from other textile artworks, so it’s construction is more meditative. However, when I was making this, I was listening to a fascinating audiobook that was certainly apropos: “The Body” by Bill Bryson.

“Collectively” (2021) by Brian Kenny

An interesting feature that’s not immediately noticeable: There’s a lot of personal items and totems stitched into the banner; underwear waistbands from my handsome boyfriend, numbers from my sports jerseys collection, and my ultimate favorite totem, teeth. 

How it reflects your practice as a whole: My art practice is a lot like Jazz. It’s virtually all improvised from start to finish. I like to figure things out as I go along, and follow my instincts and interests in the moment. I also prefer to make art with found objects, on printed matter and upcycled materials. These things often already have imbued stories and energies in them that I can play off of, change or build upon.

One song that captures its essence: “You” by MATMOS

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