Repositioning narratives with fall 2019 artist-in-residence Lacey McKinney

By Elizabeth Delaney for McColl Center for Art + Innovation

Lacey McKinney creates art in response to the social injustices she has studied, witnessed, and experienced in her lifetime, both as an artist and a woman.

She brings her progressive, provocative contemporary portraiture to Charlotte as a fall 2019 artist-in-residence at McColl Center.

“My studio practice is centered on exploring embodiment, feminist theory, and how women are represented in images,” says McKinney, whose work reflects the cultural inequalities entrenched in the western canon.

McKinney uses her medium to call out the underrepresentation of female artists.

She highlights how women have been relegated to narrowly defined roles as subjects—invariably within the confines of someone else’s viewpoint and intention.

“In art history there is an imbalance of power with how subjects are represented and who has control over how images are made and valued,” says McKinney. “Women and marginalized communities have been held under oppressive barriers that inhibit self-determination and agency.”

To that end, her portraits reveal anonymous yet definable eyes, noses, and mouths that embrace individual traits as they fade into and out of one another. Each has its own space but also forms a crucial part of the whole, making it simultaneously individual and universal.

She explains, “As a contemporary artist, I take previously dismissed narratives and re-position them as foregrounded visual amalgamations. I am interested in expressing complexity, movement, and heterogeneous visual representations, thereby expanding convention to the benefit of all, especially those who could start to see themselves reflected more often.”

Lacey McKinney, Obscenely Loved IV, 2018. Oil, acrylic, and graphite on yupo; 30 x 22 inches. Courtesy of the artist. Photograph by Lacey McKinney.

The artist’s process starts with photographs, which she deconstructs and arranges into a collage format. She then uses the collage as the visual foundation for a painting.

“The final artwork pulls from the tradition of painting (to represent flesh and the body) and collage (to shift socially constructed meanings of the body) while also challenging both,” she says. Eschewing a single focal point, perspective, or voice, each portrait is complicated and multifaceted, much like the people who inspired it.

McKinney will host an artist talk and photo portrait session at McColl Center on Thursday, September 19.

She’ll discuss the creative and technical aspects of her work, and include a hands-on component as well, where guests may sit for photo portraits that McKinney will use as reference material for subsequent paintings. Her artist talk will begin at 4:00 p.m., followed by the portrait session at 5:00 p.m

“These participatory photographs will allow visitors to become part of my residency project, as these images will become integrated into my collages and paintings,” she says. “I look forward to meeting new people, getting to know the community, and forging connections through my art.”

Reserve your spot for Lacey McKinney’s artist talk and portrait session on Thursday, September 19, 2019, between 4:00 and 7:00 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.


Artist photo by Lacey McKinney. Courtesy of the artist.