“Head Trauma: From the Outer Rim” is not your typical art exhibit. It’s more of a full-on experience, filled with images, sounds and smells that will leave each viewer with a different interpretation of what they just witnessed.
In the exhibit, kendallprojects, the name under which Jason Kendall presents his art, incorporates drawing, painting, sculpture and performance. The exhibition addresses American football culture by exploring themes of identity construction, masculinity, violence in sports and conditional self-worth based on physical performance.
The artist is not only a spectator but also a critical analyst, distancing himself from the self-destructive nature exhibited by many athletes.
Kendall, 44, has been a professional artist for about 19 years. Although he had held other jobs during that time, he recently made the decision to devote all of his attention to his craft.
“I hung up the tie to make kendallprojects a full time thing. I’m 44. If I don’t do it now then I never will,” he said.
Although this is not his first exhibition, it is the first that focuses solely on football and explores the artist’s personal experience. From 1994 to 1998, Kendall played football at the University of South Carolina and North Greenville College. He quit to escape the negative physical and psychological aspects of the sport and to pursue a career as an artist. The experiences he had on and off the field, as well as the on-going discoveries on the effects of head traumas, fueled this show.
Kendall recently spoke about his newest exhibit and his artistic process.
Q. Why did you choose football as your source of inspiration for this exhibit?
A. Football has been a huge part of my life, but I have a critical stance against it. I have been looking at identity theory and the effects of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), There have been projects that have been pieced together from other shows, but were out of context. So this is an accumulation of those ideas.
Q. Why do you feel these pieces of art are important and need to be seen?
A. I’m a hometown boy that left and came back. And this is the kind of work that isn’t seen in South Carolina. It’s multimedia, it seduces you in. It can be funny, but disturb you at the same time. It’s a different take on the American Dream or the American jock. It’s the flip side of the coin, what’s left after all the glory is over with.
Q. What are you hoping people take away from this exhibit?
A. When people see the work, I want them to remember it and think about it afterward. It’s like you’re happening upon a crime scene and it’s up to you to put the pieces together. I’m trying to use symbols and language to guide that story.
Q. Tell us more about the art in ‘Head Trauma’ and about your artistic process.
A. They are works of play on words and direct reference to pop culture and art history. It’s taking old equipment and giving it another life. The work I make deals with high concepts. It’s about having something to say and not really about how I feel. It’s more scientific than a feeling. You have to be engaged and challenged and not just entertained.
If you go
“Head Trauma: From the Outer Rim”
When: Through July 7
Where: 701 Center for Contemporary Art, 701 Whaley St.
Gallery hours: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 1-5 p.m. Sunday
Cost: Free for members; suggested $5 donation for non-members.