For Los Angeles-based multidisciplinary artist Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle, Kentifrica is a physical and theoretical place that blurs reality and fiction. It is a contested geography/continent for which the artist has been developing an educational and research platform over the past few years. The name is a combination of the geographies of Hinkle’s ancestral lands of Kentucky and parts of West Africa, and she considers herself to be a descendant of this place. By re-creating artifacts and sharing narratives and customs from her research archives, she is reconstructing a Kentifrican identity that invites a critical engagement with the intersections of collective and personal histories, diaspora, migration, immigration, cross-cultural exchange, and issues of geography and authority in relationship to knowledge production.
The Kentifrican proverb “Looking Where it Ain’t” serves as the basis for this performative lecture. Passed down to the artist by her great-great-uncle, the saying suggests that “things we are looking for can be found in the last place that we would expect them to be.” These places where we refuse to look are continually determined by our own biases and fidelity to constructions of historical “truth.” Through the embodiment of various voices and modes of address, Hinkle examines what happens to bodies in transit and how they are contextualized culturally and impacted by historically sanctioned dominant signifiers of race and culture.
Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle is an interdisciplinary visual artist, writer, and performer. Her practice fluctuates between collaborations and participatory projects with alternative gallery spaces within various communities to projects that are intimate and based upon her private experiences in relationship to historical events and contexts. A term that has become a mantra for her practice is the “Historical Present,” as she examines the residue of history and how it affects our contemporary world perspective. Hinkle received her MFA in Art & Critical Studies Creative Writing from CalArts and BFA in Painting from the Maryland Institute College of Art.
Her work and experimental writing have been exhibited and performed Fore at The Studio Museum in Harlem, NY, Project Row Houses in Houston, TX, The Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, CA, and The Museum of Art at The University of New Hampshire. Hinkle was the youngest artist to participate in the multi-generational biennial Made in LA in 2012. Hinkle’s work has been reviewed by the Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly, Artforum, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, and The New York Times. Hinkle was listed on The Huffington Post’s Black Artists: 30 Contemporary Art Makers Under 40 You Should Know. She is also the recipient of several fellowships and grants including The Rema Hort Mann Foundation Emerging Artist Award, The Cultural Center for Innovation’s Investing in Artists Grant, Social Practice in Art (SPart-LA), and The Jacob K. Javits Full Fellowship for Graduate Study. Hinkle is a recent alumna of the US Fulbright Program in which she conducted research at the University of Lagos in Lagos, Nigeria.