The New L.A: Kenn Taylor

Q&A | Sep 2017 | BY Jessica Idarraga

Los Angeles has long been a culture capital for creative souls. A bright, ambitious generation of young artists are creating, growing and thriving in the City of Angels. Up-and-coming L.A. artist Kenn Taylor is navigating the city’s creative hustle with solo shows at As It Stands and the Machine Projects. Cultured sat down with Taylor to discuss his creative process, the Los Angeles art scene and the lessons he picked up from Mary Weatherford.

When and how did you decide that you wanted to be an artist?

I always knew I wanted to be an artist of some sort. As a kid, I’d try whatever I could get my hands on. I decided to devote all my time to painting and sculpture in college. I was playing Division 1 soccer at Cal State-Bakersfield. Until this point, I had spent every day from the age of 11 training to become a professional soccer player. It was a difficult decision to make after being so close to a soccer career. I was traveling for soccer on many flights to different parts of the US. The artists I met waiting for flights made me jealous. Specifically, I remember meeting Tyler the Creator and thinking how much more fun it sounded traveling for art rather than sport. In sports, there were too many rules about dress code, diet, and physique that limit imagination. I also took an introduction to art class. My professor shared stories of artists’ lives and careers that inspired me to start making it happen.

Self Portrait, 2017

What subject matter inspires your art?

My life. I have things I don’t talk about or tell people. I don’t care for everyone to know either, but that stuff keeps me alive and makes me want to work on something every day. I guess I’m already inspired. I’m interested in a lot of things: sports, dance, rap music, classic mariachi songs, German Expressionism, French Impressionism, Spanish Romanticism, philosophy, plants and birds. When I’m present in my surroundings, it’s easy to pinpoint situations or moments I’d like to emphasize because of how they relate to my life. I’m a sponge ready to soak up and spit out.

How do you perceive the L.A. art scene?

There is a lot, and it’s sometimes hard to process. I know many great people, though, doing amazing things. I’m happy to be a part of what’s happening in L.A.

What projects are you currently working on?

Along with always painting, right now I’m making bird sculptures as a way to help me remember the people I’ve met. Kind of like a diary of self-portraits with birds.

Princesses, 2017

Can you tell us about your relationship with Mary Weatherford and how that transcended in your personal work?

When I met Mary, she was the Visiting Artist for the gallery class at CSUB. The class was set up for students to help the artist organize a show from beginning to end. We got along really well, and she ended up hiring me as a studio assistant. Mary is a very knowledgeable artist. It’s great to be able to share ideas with someone who has that level of energy and excitement for culture and painting. I am thankful for her as a mentor in art and life.

What venue do you dream of exhibiting at?

I have a few. I want to make the biggest painting ever for the Tate entrance in London. I have an idea for a sculpture show on the moon. I’d also like to have a solo booth at Miami Basel in 2018.

Sunblockers at the stadium, 2017

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