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Local Artists Live: Kevin King
May 16, 2020; 10:00 AM–10:30 AM CDT
Kevin King is the featured artist on this week’s Local Artists Live. Not only an artist, he is also an activist who founded and is the Executive Director of The King’s Canvas, a gallery and studio space that offers opportunities for fostering creativity and learning important life skills. Kevin, whose non-commissioned art focuses on raising awareness of social justice issues, is a man of faith who creates with deep purpose. When asked if he remembers the wisest words ever spoken to him, he quotes a verse from the Bible, Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good: And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God…”
Kevin grew up in Mobile, but he recalls visiting his father in Montgomery during spring breaks and summer vacations. A favorite memory from those visits was attending LL Cool J’s Nitro Tour at Garrett Coliseum in 1989. Growing up, he was actively creative through high school, then set art aside until picking it up again in 2013. At that time, he was deeply entrenched in serving West Montgomery; the historical context and connected social issues of this community and city were all constantly at the forefront, inspiring Kevin to create art that addresses controversial issues. Continue reading below to learn about Kevin, his art and process, and be sure to tune in at 10 AM on Saturday, May 16, for his live takeover of the MMFA’s Instagram account!
Left: Kevin King, Do or Die, Acrylic on canvas
This program is part of the series:
Meet the Artist
What is your favorite thing about living in the South?
I have always lived in the south so my favorite thing is the sense of family, community, and hospitality.
What excites you most about the growth of Montgomery’s art scene?
I am excited about more creatives who were more underground and felt unaccepted by the mainstream art community unapologetically being themselves and finding community and opportunity without compromising who they are.
What piece of art that you have created is your favorite, and why?
Do or Die (pictured above). It represents the socially conscious and activism hip hop movement that I grew up listening to.
Do or Die is a depiction of character Radio Raheem from Spike Lee’s 1989 film Do The Right Thing. To me, Raheem represents hip hop culture in a way that elevates and celebrates socially conscious protest hip hop such as rap group Public Enemy’s Fight the Power. Do or Diehonors young black men in our communities who fall victim to violence at the hands of the police such as the Radio Raheem Character in the movie. Do The Right Thing was inspired by real-life incidents, and the movie ends with a dedication to “families of Eleanor Bumpurs, Michael Griffith, Arthur Miller, Edmund Perry, Yvonne Smallwood and Michael Stewart,” all black New Yorkers who had been killed in the years leading up to the film’s release.
Is there an artist represented in the MMFA’s collection whose work speaks strongly to you?
I love Yvonne Wells’ art.
Do you have an all-time favorite work of art, and have you seen it in person? If you have, how did you feel in the moment?
Ernie Barnes’ The Sugar Shack. No, I have not seen it in person.
Tell us about your most preferred place to be on earth. What role, if any, has the energy of that place helped shape you as an artist?
The King’s Canvas studio. It provides the artistic ambiance that I need in order to foster creativity.
What drives your creativity?
The challenge to creatively address issues in our society, especially when there are no available ears to hear your frustrations and an unwillingness to stand up for the voiceless and powerless.
What is your preferred medium?
Acrylic on canvas.
Do you listen to any particular music when you create?
Old School Funk, Jazz, and Hip Hop. It really depends on the subject of the art.
What advice would you give to beginning artists?
Never stop creating.