Kevin Townsend is an interdisciplinary artist and professor currently living and working in Boston who holds a BFA from the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design at George Washington University and an MFA in Art Practice from School of Visual Arts. Kevin’s time-based work stems from an expanded drawing practice and centers around mark-making, obsession and our experience of ‘being in time.' His current work brings together elements of drawing, sound, video, installation, and performance where the resulting works are temporary, durational, and often public. Kevin’s work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally with recent exhibitions including: TIME/LINE, a solo show at Bluffton University in Ohio, Draw to Perform 2: International Symposium on Drawing and Performance in London, England, DIB—Drawing International Brisbane Symposium in Brisbane, Australia, Duration & Dialog at Katzman Contemporary in Toronto, Canada, Work with Me at Monserrat College of Art Galleries in Beverly, Massachusetts, and AiOP—Art in Odd Places in New York City. He has just completed a 1-year visiting artist and lecturer appointment in Drawing & Painting at Boston’s School of the Museum of Fine Art at Tufts and is currently a visiting professor in the Art Education Department of Massachusetts College of Art and Design.
A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO MY ARTIST-TEACHER PHILOSOPHY
I make, I teach. For me the terms Artist and Teacher are more than professional titles; taken together they comprise a hybrid worldview that emerges from near-constant condensing, distilling, framing, questioning and contextualization of ideas, information and abstract concepts in order to engage an audience in dialogue. My practice as artist-teacher centers around the cultivation of the space between the known and the unknown, between problem and solution, or the idea and its manifestation. I strive to create a dynamic learning environment that hinges upon the intersection of critical thinking and making, an environment that immerses students in seminar-style discussion, dedicated work time, 1-on-1 studio visits and critique.
I strive to construct a classroom-studio environment that functions like a laboratory, where experimentation is essential, where work produces work and learning is not limited to the top-down dissemination of knowledge. I approach my role in the classroom as a catalyst, collaborator, mentor and advisor focused on ideation and critical thinking in order to fuel a culture that plays with taxonomies, encourages leaps in thinking, and values subversive connections and new approaches to making. From the safeness of this environment, students are empowered to take risks, abandon their habits, transcend established logic and deny the stability of repeatable, known results.
Time, mark, obsession—these concepts animate my practice and are the threads that run through all facets of my work. I am obsessed with time, fascinated by its accretion in the form of memory within us, and our unequal, subjective yet simultaneous experience of its passing. Time has depth, breadth, currents and flows— it exists simultaneously as individual moments and as a large sprawling body. Time is a sea. Time surrounds us; we can find ourselves immersed within it or skimming across its unpredictable and turbulent surface. Time heals, corrodes, swells, preserves, shimmers, torments, destroys, and is always in transition— never still. Within this fluid, phenomenological model for time, obsession emerges as a tidal force, a storm of attention.
In 2013 I left behind my previous bodies of work and began to embrace durational drawing as an act of construction that aims to expand drawing beyond its objecthood. The performative drawings connect to a public perceptual field where the drawing, audience, and maker occupy the same present. In these pieces, I become a part of the work— my presence, labor, time, mark-making tactile-kinesthetic body movement and the topological images they yield all exist simultaneously. In these works, obsession is fused with the concept of duration as proposed by Bergson, encapsulating the fusion of past, present, memory and being into a new whole.
These drawings extend my ongoing research and efforts to articulate the phenomenology of obsession as a time-space born of dissonant energies— inside of which there exists an intense, palpable self-awareness, a thinning, an ulceration of the barrier between instinct and dream, sensation and cognition. I am intrigued by the ways in which the tidal gravity of a given moment can warp and distort our experience of time and the ways in which moments accumulate in us, forming the architecture of our identity.
As the duration of these works has grown the experience of making them approaches a feeling of timelessness, a feeling of occupying an opening in the present. By eliminating any intentional image making at the outset, each mark only embodies the moment of its making and exists as a record of intention and attention in time— the drawings breathe into their surroundings and the collective present, allowing time to function as the true site for the work.