Although he moved to St. Louis after earning his Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Kansas City Art Institute in 2015, ceramic artist Kahlil Irving continues to be a fixture of the Kansas City art scene, with appearances in the Kansas City Art Institute Crossroads Gallery’s “Chromophilia | Chromophobia” exhibit in 2016, and the Nerman Museum’s “Ephemera” exhibit in 2017.
In August, Irving’s work will be part of the Epsten Gallery’s “KCAI Alumni Biennial Exhibition 2018,” organized by New York-based curator Quang Bao, who also selected works by China Marks and Melissa Vogley Woods for this second edition of the KCAI alumni show.
Irving’s showing at Epsten follows his fall 2017 one-person exhibition in New York at Callicoon Fine Arts, where John Vincer in the online publication “Guernica” found the work “immediately compelling.” In his review in “Art in America,” David Ebony pronounced it “thematically poignant and technically dazzling.”
The Epsten show includes a signal work from the Callicoon exhibit, “Bricks, Concrete, Tubes (Mass Memorial)” (2017), on loan from a private collector in Kansas City.
The piece is one of a series of ceramic works by Irving featuring mashups of urban throwaways and debris, cast in clay and adorned with glazes, lusters and decals. The scrawled “I Am Mike” on the surface of the work is an allusion to Michael Brown, the unarmed black man killed by white policeman Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014. Not seen in the view of the work above is its incorporation of the newspaper headline, “NO CHARGES FOR WILSON.”
The surrounding shards, fragments and fissures, dashed with red paint suggesting blood, speak of destruction and disappointment.
Irving’s portion of the alumni show will also feature a vinyl wall installation with a chain-link pattern from his Callicoon exhibit and a selection of the artist’s recent “Fence” prints.
The “KCAI Alumni Biennial Exhibition 2018” runs August 19 through Sept. 30 at the Epsten Gallery, 5500 W. 123rd St., Overland Park, which will hold a public opening from 5:30 to 8 p.m. August 29. Hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday. Open by appointment Monday and Saturday. For more information, 913.266.8414 or www.epstengallery.org. In conjunction with the exhibit, the show’s guest juror, Quang Bao, will give a free public lecture at 7 p.m. Aug. 30 in Epperson Auditorium at the Kansas City Art Institute, 4415 Warwick Blvd.
Above: Kahlil Irving’s “Bricks, Concrete, Tubes (Mass Memorial)” (2017), incorporates glazed and unglazed porcelain and stoneware, gravel, red earthenware brick, personally constructed decals and blue, silver and gold luster. The work will be part of the “KCAI Alumni Biennial Exhibition 2018” at the Epsten Gallery. (private collection / photo by E.G. Schempf)