Klea McKenna: Generation

Press: ART IN AMERICA, December 21, 2018 - Leah Ollman


December 21, 2018 - Leah Ollman

Look and Feel: The Best Photography Books of 2018

Generation by Klea McKenna

What matters to Klea McKenna registers immediately when you take her book, Generation, into your hands. For her, touch is on a par with vision. Surface and image are inextricable. McKenna works in the dark, embossing light-sensitized paper through pressured contact with objects, then exposing the textured sheets to the raking beam of a flashlight. In the past, she has made such “photographic rubbings” using the cross-sections of trees; in Generation, she uses different types of handmade fabrics, from a fringed Spanish shawl to an embroidered Pakistani dress. Some of these photograms are included in the book, along with a text in which McKenna reflects on the material history and intimate use of the textiles. Also included are montages of reference photographs, old and new, ethnographic, cinematic, and vernacular. Like the fabrics, like skin, the book’s cover has a distinct life—the cover of my copy will not look or feel like the cover of yours, since a unique one has been created from the residue of the making of the work for each edition in the limited print run. In case we needed the prompt, the inside back cover is stamped with the directive: FEEL ME.

Press: PHOTOGRAPH, October 27, 2018 - Michael Wilson


October 27, 2018 - Michael Wilson

If the photogram is ordinarily associated with a shadowy ephemerality, San Francisco artist Klea McKenna’s approach to the form invests it with a physical heft more often linked to printmaking, or even sculpture...In her Generation series, McKenna redirects her lens toward the human realm, depicting textiles transformed by wear and tear into haunting records of women’s experiences – narratives removed from McKenna’s own by the specificities of time and place but united with it in other ways. La China Poblana (1), 2018, for example, embodies a fascinating intersection of cultural identities in its depiction of an old skirt encrusted with sequins. This traditional garment tells the story of a Rajasthani woman who, in the late 1600s, was kidnapped, sold into slavery, and taken to the Mexican city of Puebla, where she eventually married a wealthy merchant.

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Press: MUSÉE MAGAZINE, October 10, 2018 - Adam Ethan Berner


October 10, 2018 - Adam Ethan Berner

The photograms render their subjects in incredibly intimate detail; each stitching shines through the silvery imprint, lines and creases transforming from marks to be fixed into something ethereal and beautiful. Even a seemingly tangled scattering of 48 nylon stockings becomes a beautiful composition of fabric, a twisting and flowing set of silvery smoke that beckons the viewer to imagine what is and what could be...It reveals the life and labor that took place to create these works in the first place, highlighting the identities of those who had been rendered invisible by the unconscious assumption that objects like these just appear without the labor of actual people...Each crease, each line, each stitching, and each decoration becomes a testament to the lives of those who made these works, like the creation of a soul now passed onto the viewer.

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Press: COLLECTOR DAILY, October  3, 2018 - Richard B. Woodward


October 3, 2018 - Richard B. Woodward

Over the last 5 years, Klea McKenna has repeatedly proven herself to be a contemporary master of the photogram. A technical innovator who has nonetheless remained true to this primal act of the medium—writing on pieces of paper with light—she has created ravishing prints that incorporate nature into the process of their emanation, an artistic philosophy that reflects an unconventional upbringing in northern California.

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Press: QUIET LUNCH, September 13, 2018 - Kurt McVey


September 13, 2018 - Kurt McVey

Her work, as she sees it, though aesthetically gorgeous, sensual and mysterious, is dependent on the idea that these things, the sinewy, ghostly photograms-a physical and yet metaphysical expression of these textiles-have something to say for themselves. “They’re not just dead matter.”

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