This is the largest and most successfully executed of all of my large-scale trash installation projects I completed for my thesis exhibition as a candidate for the Master of Fine Arts Degree at Pratt and its reincarnation was the first of a couple different projects I completed post-grad with the trash installation materials I had accumulated in the industrial district adjacent to the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The initial and overarching concept of the project (and all of my work for the past couple of years) was a desire to create a world that sits comfortably and boldly in the uncanny rift: a space between the familiar and the absurd, the beautiful and the grotesque. This desire and love of the uncanny was fostered in me as a youngin at my Grandparents’ farm in the Berkshire Mountains in Massachusetts where I made beautiful art projects and crafts with my Grandmother out of salvaged materials, often including the bones and claws of dead animals. After working in the warehouse complex where I had a studio for 2 years I began to reflect on these early encounters and also began to notice the uncanny beauty of the industrial trash and scrap products found in excess in this industrial sector. Suddenly the trash began to relate itself to this concept that I was trying to execute in 2 dimensions for about 8 months prior to the first time I used found materials in my work. Gradually the found materials began to become the real meat of the work and the painted elements were used to ground the installations as creatures with “fleshy skull heads.” I found my desire to create the uncanny through juxtaposing the grotesque with the beautiful, trash with baroque stylings, familiar yet unknown skull paintings, etc, began to really overlap with the need/desire to maintain a sustainable art practice. I think salvaging and saving the discarded and unused has a great relationship to my notion of the uncanny and sustainability is not only socially conscious but is a ridiculously effective way to cut costs in an already frivolous and decadent art world. In many cases I find myself at odds with the decadence of the upper echelons of the art world and maintaining sustainability and creating uncanny beauty out of all sorts of trash seems like the perfect response.
Kevin William Reed grew up in the woods of Connecticut and spent most of it cultivating a particular fondness for the uncanny beauty therein and a love of the bizarre. He received a BA in Studio Art from the University of Maryland – College Park in 2009 and an MFA in Painting and Drawing from Pratt Institute in 2012. He currently lives and maintains his studio practice in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn and is often found rummaging through strangers’ garbage or tending to the 30+ vegetable plants growing on his fire escape. The complete collection of Kevin’s work can be found at www.kevinwilliamreed.com.