Erin Kendrick is an international artist and arts educator from Jacksonville, Florida. Her color-rich, acrylic ink-stained works of art and transformative installations seek to inspire a dialogue about contemporary spectatorship and the power of language as it relates to perceptions of and about black women. She has exhibited work in museums, galleries and alternative spaces throughout the United States and abroad. After receiving her formal art training at Florida State University (BFA, Studio Art, 1999) and Georgia State University (MFA, Drawing & Painting, 2003), she worked for many years as a Studio Artist and Arts Educator in Atlanta, Georgia. Although, she stepped away from the arts for 8 years to run an event design business (E. Street Design Co.), she returned to exhibiting artwork in 2016 with a renewed drive for art making and a new body of work.
She is currently the Director of Education and Lead Visual Art Instructor at Jacksonville Arts & Music School. Having taught at every level including higher ed, she was recently named the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville’s 2019 Art Educator of the Year. In 2018, she was voted Best Visual Artist, Best Art Exhibition, and Best Arts Educator in Folio Weekly’s Best of Jax 2018 poll. She has won several grants including the Jackie Cornelius Art Residency Grant (Douglas Anderson School of the Arts), the Lift Every Student Artist-In-Residence Grant, and the Community First Foundation Art Ventures Individual Artist Grant. Erin maintains a studio at CoRK Arts District. 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. As an educator she lives by Elbert Hubbard’s quote, “Art is not a thing. It is a way.”
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.
 Hooks, Bell. “The Oppositional Gaze: Black Female Spectators.” Feminist Film Theory: A Reader. Ed. Sue Thornham. New York: New York UP, 1999. 307-19.
MFA, Drawing & Painting, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA
BFA, Studio Art, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL
Pikin, South Gallery at Florida State College at Jacksonville, Jacksonville, FL
Echo, Hendricks Avenue Baptist Church, Jacksonville, FL
The Wiz, Players-by-the-Sea, Jacksonville, FL
Oh Snap!, Riverside Fine Arts Association, Jacksonville, FL
Photobooth, Heather Moore Community Gallery, Cathedral Arts Project, Jacksonville, FL
her own things - an exhibition by erin kendrick, Yellow House, Jacksonville, FL
30th Anniversary of Art Ventures Exhibition, Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, Jacksonville, FL
The Nameless Now, Crisp-Ellert Art Museum, St. Augustine, FL
ArtWork(ers) United, University of North Florida, Jacksonville, FL
Paint: Medium as Power, Barrett Art Center, Poughkeepsie, NY
W.A.V.E.- Women Artists. Visual Experiences, Jacksonville International Airport, Jacksonville, FL
As a Matter of Black, Miami Urban Contemporary Experience (MUCE), Miami, FL
Through Our Eyes: Struggle and Resistance - Journey to South Africa, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Museum, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Through Our Eyes 2019: The Revolution will be Documented by the Artists, Ritz Museum & Theater, Jacksonville, FL
Welcome to the Afrofuture: Ground Zero, New Orleans African American Museum, New Orleans, LA
Musing Women, FSCJ South Gallery, Wilson Center for the Arts, Jacksonville, FL
Enroute, Bethune Cookman College Performing Arts Center, Daytona, FL
Contemporary Portrait: A National Juried Exhibition, Louise Hopkins Underwood Center for the Arts, Lubbock, TX
SUFFRAGE, Yellow House, Jacksonville, FL
Stories/Allegories, Jacksonville International Airport, Jacksonville, FL
Through Our Eyes 2018: Struggle & Resistance, Ritz Theater and Museum, Jacksonville, FL
First Coast Artists on the First Amendment, Karpeles Manuscript Museum, Jacksonville, FL
Kesha - A Black Female Experience of Identity and Race, Jax Makerspace, Jacksonville Public Library, Jacksonville, FL
Through Our Eyes 2016: Sensory Perception, Ritz Theatre and Museum, Jacksonville, FL
PIKIN. ARTIST STATEMENT
In spite of the relentless adultification of young black girls, they are children first. To experience adolescence authentically without the intrusion of racial bias and spiritual, emotional, and physical violence is their absolute right. However, the idea that black girls are small black women is highlighted in various capacities in the US - disproportionate discipline rates for black girls in schools for subjective infractions, expectations of keeping family secrets in spite of sexual, emotional, and physical trauma, resistance to non-traditional gender identities, a lack of empathy in cases of black missing and endangered girls, incessant, unwarranted police violence, as well as the age-old myth of the black superwoman.
Solutions to these disparities have been proffered in the form of fortified assimilation, complacent longsuffering, and apathetic disregard, but the emergence of what has been termed, Black Girl Magic, has presented itself as an effective solution. The term highlights a renaissance of black women and girls, reclaiming agency, and stepping from the margins to the center in the last 10 years. By centering the authentic lived experiences and the voices of black women and girls—as both salve and resolve to these disparities—we grant our black girls a fighting chance.
This exhibition was inspired in part by the memoir “Taking Flight” by ballerina, Michaela DePrince,
as part of the 2020-21 FSCJ Author Series.
Michaela DePrince's origin story is one of loss, disposal, and redemption, and personal absolution. Each the residue of the power of choice. Born Mabinty Bangura in Sierra Leone, as a child Michaela DePrince endured the tragic loss of her parents and abandonment by an uncle who considered her too ugly and too smart for his time. Often referred to as “pikin” meaning child, she was sold to an orphanage whose caretakers substituted punishment and shame for love. With the hope of being adopted into an American family, she persevered and found strength in standing up for her orphanage bestowed best friend, Mabinty Suma. Each considered outcasts among the children, young Michaela's imagination and fortitude would win them both friends and eventually legal sisterhood by adoption. DePrince survived all of this before the age of five. Her story, like so many black girls, is one of resilience, and she has tendered her lived history as a beacon for girls like her.
“Pikin” is for the Mabintys of the world. Fire-breathing dragons. Standing up for one another time and time again