Kim Kennedy Austin: Industry, Charity, Faith, Hope
Accenting this first survey exhibition of Austin’s practice is a new body of work produced for the West Vancouver Museum. This work emerges out of Austin’s interest and research into the iron bridges that connect the North Shore not only to other land masses, but to other histories as well.
The title of the exhibition is taken from the refrain of Oh Industry, a song performed by Bette Midler in the 1988 film Beaches.
Presented alongside this new work is a selection of paintings, drawings and needlepoint work produced over the past two decades. The aim is to highlight the broad aesthetic, intellectual and cultural territory that Austin weaves together into a unique and labour-intensive practice. Austin looks at structural systems and emotive aesthetics in the ubiquitous sea of printed matter that is trying to sell us products, religion and lifestyle. Operating on the fringe of the social and economic milieu for which this material is produced, and often finding attraction in things that have just gone out of style or lost their function, Austin re-invests these images and objects with labour and attention to detail. Transforming mechanically reproduced forms into uniquely handmade objects, Austin points us back to the creative impulse and imagination that likely inspired their original production.
In this exhibition, the mechanical language of industry is asked to co-exist with the spiralling and heart-shaped sentimentality of popular culture in the form of text-based drawings, watercolours and needlepoint cross-stitching. Austin activates an artistic position that can neither be called dry conceptualism nor wet expressionism, as it folds references to music, literature, industry, television and craft into its own structure and sensibility. Here we find a dialogue between instinct and intellect that ultimately visualizes a labour of love.
The exhibition is guest curated by Patrik Andersson and is accompanied by a text-based response written by the writer, poet and archivist Larissa Beringer.
The artist and curator dedicate this exhibition to their friend and long-time supporter of the arts, Jack Adelaar.