Born in Yonkers, New York, in 1957, Jon Kessler made a name for himself with sculpture in which samples of US pop-culture are set in motion. He has been influenced by various genres of art and periods of art history, including modern art, architecture and photography, film and drama. He has used a whole range of materials like wood, steel, glass, synthetics, Plexiglas, aluminum and brass, and items like parts of interior decoration, clothing, stuffed animals, toys and television soap operas. ‘Kessler is known for his innovative use of materials,’ wrote a critic about Kessler’s Hall of Birds, an atrium which he populated with overgrown parrots made by the Japanese art of folding paper (origami). ‘He thereby manages to capture and keep viewers’ attention.’
In the wake of the events of the 11th of September, Kessler extended his mechanical world of images by including video and by aping the Bush administration’s image-processing. Like some Dadaists he wished to react with artistry to the madness of war and destruction. ‘With these deeply comic, deadly earnest and fully anarchic picture-machines, Kessler samples the spectacle of the Bush government to illustrate its authoritarian policies, terrorist warfare and cultural stupidity. His machines ingest them only to throw them up. The effect is a calculated rage against the mechanics of presently imperialist America,’ writes the critic Hal Foster in his article about The Palace at 4 a.m.
Kessler was included in the International Survey of Recent Painting and Sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1983, and took part in the 1985 Whitney Biennial. He has since held one person exhibitions at Carnegie in Pittsburgh, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and Deitch Projects and P.S.1 in New York. His work is also in many permanent collections, including those of the MoMA, the Whitney Museum, MOCA, Walker Art Center, and the Israel Museum.
An endowment established in 1983 through the generosity of Nancy and Robin Hanes supports the Art Department’s Visiting Artist Series. This important program brings both established and emerging artists to campus to discuss their work in public lectures and to offer individual critiques to our M.F.A. students. The Hanes Visiting Artist series greatly enriches both our academic programs and our outreach to the wider community. All lectures are free and open to the public.
Artist website: www.jonkessler.com
UNC Art Department: art.unc.edu/index.htm