Kharis Kennedy approaches objects and the body as sites of knowledge, repositories of awareness that can be resourced in the service of personal discovery. She uses physics and intuition to build imagery and reveal inner truths, whether it be depicting animals who have been appropriated to reflect the spirits of their owners, satirizing fashion’s cultural role in forming individualistic and societal identities, or expressing the turbulence of her inner world through a floral still life. Her paintings, videos, and performances are psychologically revealing and always deeply personal.
Following her 2011 relocation to the Caribbean tendencies towards animism became more pronounced in her work. She identifies with the region’s enduring traditions of exorcising painful personal and collective histories through ritual and enactment, using costuming to subvert authority, and visually evoking the tensions inherent in blending the often contradictory beliefs of Christian and African Diaspora religious dialogues. Kennedy’s overall practice centers around themes of gender, race, power, and control as constructs of identity.
Kharis Kennedy was born in California in 1976. The daughter of a professional basketball coach she was raised internationally but has been a U.S.- based artist since 1999. She received a BFA in Painting and Drawing and a BA in Art History from the University of Washington (Seattle).
Kennedy has participated in both collaborative and curatorial projects. She was awarded an A.I.R. Gallery Fellowship (Brooklyn, NY) in 2007. Solo exhibitions and screenings of her work have appeared in public and private institutions across the country, to include New York, Seattle, Miami and the U.S. Virgin Islands. In December 2016 Kennedy co-founded and participated in a multi-experiential exhibition and performance series, Take Five – A Survey of Race Identity and Power in St. Croix to create social engagement and dialogue in her local art community. She serves on the Artist Board for the Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts (Frederiksted, USVI). This spring Kennedy’s work was featured in a two-woman exhibition with multi-media artist Judy Pfaff at Art100 (Hong Kong) in the heart of New York City’s Chelsea art district. She lives and works on the island of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands.