The ceramic torsos look drenched in Technicolor rain, or preserved in ash, or made of fire. These twenty female forms, brittle yet invincible, comprised an exhibit by Gloria Kennedy called “Colored Girls”. The pieces were being shown in Berlin a few months ago, and meanwhile Gloria was living her life in New York. She was considering selling an apartment she’d owned forever. She was wondering what on earth she could do that would be right, and meaningful, at this stage in her own story. She was walking in DUMBO when she noticed a “Gallery For Rent” sign, and she wasn’t ready to make that kind of leap of faith and she did it anyway. In another country, her ceramic tributes to passion, to the mysteries in each of our own hearts, to the individual, were hanging in a white room. And in Brooklyn, Gloria Kennedy decided to open her own white room.
Born in Louisiana, Gloria moved frequently, following the race-hinged career of her PhD father along the circuit of black colleges. She and her four brothers were close, and smart, and often bored and subsequently misbehaved. Gloria’s wise mouth got her thrown out of class every day in high school, but she made good grades. She got a scholarship, a Physics degree, a series of jobs that would culminate in her own business—which she ran for twenty years. And then along came outsourcing. And 9/11. And the Bush Administration. And everything that used to make sense stopped making sense.
Gloria is a potter, and has focused solely on making hand-built ceramics for the past twenty years. She likes that you never know what you have created until you open the kiln. And once in a while you open that door, and every single thing is beautiful. Sometimes you open it, and every single thing is broken. Gloria also loves the mystery of the clay—“I like to make things that are recognized forms, and also pieces that don’t exist in reality otherwise.” If a potter honors a glaze recipe, then she can break an infinite number of rules and make an infinite number of combinations to see what else is possible besides what has already been done. Gloria thrives on the fact that nothing, no matter how beloved or successful, can ever be exactly replicated.
Opening the Gloria Kennedy Gallery, with a rich, sensual exhibit of five artists called “Color + Texture”, is a move that comes from the same instincts guiding her as a potter. Strangely enough, the gallery space is part of a warehouse that used to house hundreds of voting booths. The ghost of national affairs is in the building. What better replacement than an earnest art space whose priorities are: fairness, diversity, beauty. “Five years ago, I was a stubborn woman who thought she knew everything,” Gloria says. “Today I feel I know nothing, and that’s fine.” She’s called on friends to help build out the space, write the legal contracts, hang the show. The Gala Opening is April 17—perfectly timed for Brooklyn’s forsythia and magnolia to bloom, for people to be excited to wander the streets again after a long winter.
Gloria Kennedy is an elegant, honest woman, whose raw, deep laugh has the South in it, the world in it, the past and present and the future in it. She says she doesn’t know what it takes to make a great gallery, and yet what it takes is exactly what Gloria is already: someone who doesn’t insist on knowing everything before she’s gone through the joy of discovering it.
Wednesday, Nov 18, 2020 at 7:00pm Eastern Time
WEBINAR hosted by Chinatown Manpower (conducted in Mandarin Chinese)
Tuesday, Oct 27, 2020 at 2:00pm Eastern Time
Wednesday, Oct 28, 2020 at 5:30pm Eastern Time
Streaming online via One Day University
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