Early this semester we had the unique opportunity to hear from Kenneth Adkins, a visual and performance artist who has been working for decades in the community of fine arts. At this particular lecture, he was discussing his work in context of a particular show that opened the following night at the Belfry in Hornell, a collection of paintings and assemblages. His used a variety of unusual techniques which he developed over many years to create the paintings he showed. For example, his work with wood glue and Elmer’s glue layers images and scraps of found objects built up to thick, heavy canvases. The wood glue retains some sense of transparency and creates fascinating depth, whereas the Elmer’s glue makes a clean white surface which viewers strive to understand. Adkins has also done a lot of work with obituary photos, which he scribbles out with a ballpoint pen until they are completely obscured. Over time, the pen fades and the faces reappear, distorted and terrifying.
I was able to visit the show in the Belfry on its opening night, where I talked to Kenneth for some time. I was deeply moved by his paintings, both the glue and oil abstractions. It was encouraging to see work that I felt was similar to mine hung up, well lit, and being looked at by a lot of people. After talking to him I felt our work was even more similar. He told me he makes work to run a little faster from the demons chasing him, which is almost verbatim what I feel about my work as well.
Since seeing his show and talking to him, I have been more bold with experimenting with found objects and paint substances. I even did some work with wood glue. I will continue to follow his work and hope that my work will grow to be as realised as his.