Coon Alchemy

by Ibn Kendall

Artist's Reception: Friday, February 6, 7 - 9pm

February 5, 2009 through February 21, 2009

NY Studio Gallery is pleased to present Coon Alchemy: Works by Ibn Kendall. The artist creates large-scale mixed media pieces using photos of his ancestors and discarded objects on canvas. 

While visiting family in Jamaica, Kendall sorted through old photos of his relatives and their friends from the 1940’s to the 1960’s. The photos impressed the artist because despite of having meager means, his family had “delightful expressions” and “possessed the costume and countenance of movie stars”. The artist quotes his grandmother: “just because you’re broke doesn’t mean you need to show it.”

The title of this series pairs coon, an inflammatory word for a black person, with alchemy a word expressing the resourcefulness of transformation. “Doing so I am changing the context of coon from an ethnic slur to a term of endearment achieved by the ability to make something out of nothing. This elevated them (portrait subjects) above their original limitations. I call this gift and curse Coon Alchemy. People of color in the colonized world have always had to use the discarded, and reinvent themselves and their culture, to create a sense of pride.”

Ibn Kendall


Opening Photos

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