Erin Kendrick is an international artist and arts educator from Jacksonville, Florida. Her color-rich, works of art and transformative installations examine contemporary spectatorship and the power of language as it relates to the lived experiences of black women and girls. She has exhibited work in museums, galleries, and alternative spaces throughout the United States and abroad and maintains a studio at CoRK Arts District. Erin earned an MFA from Georgia State University and a BFA from Florida State University. She is currently the Director of Education and Lead Visual Art Instructor at Jacksonville Arts & Music School. She was the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville’s 2019 Art Educator of the Year and in 2018, she was voted Best Visual Artist, Best Art Exhibition, and Best Arts Educator in the Folio Weekly. She has won several grants including the Jackie Cornelius Art Residency Grant, the Lift Every Student Artist-In-Residence Grant, and the Community First Foundation Art Ventures Individual Artist Grant. Her current initiative, “Artists Types”, helps practicing artists with career advancement by providing workshops, mini-courses, and templates for CV writing, artist statements, proposals, and more. In 2021, her first-authored chapter was published by Liverpool University Press in the book, With Fists Raised: Radical Art, Contemporary Activism, and the Iconoclasm of the Black Arts Movement.
In my paintings and installations, I examine contemporary spectatorship and the power of language as it relates to perceptions of and about black women, through the lens of the oppositional gaze. The oppositional gaze, penned by author bell hooks, “is one which cultivates a power to look, enabling black female spectators to document what they see and construct their own dialogue with their own voice ”. I believe that black women have historically been victims of language as our ascribed identities were largely derived from negative depictions that have been distributed historically via media, art, and contemporaneously, social media. In my work, the women are not just objects meant to be seen but serve as both spectator and witness. The subjects in the portraits stare back at the viewer and one another challenging inherited perceptions, historical prejudice, and contemporary assumptions. The subject becomes the spectator as opposed to the spectacle through the transformative power of looking/seeing…the oppositional gaze. The images and experiences honor black women’s humanness in an effort to encourage empathy through both connection and confrontation.