Virginia McKinney at the Mercer Gallery
Currently in Garden City Community College’s Mercer Gallery, viewers find the captivating 3-D and fibre art of Virginia McKinney. Ms. McKinney is the area head and professor of art at Bethany College in quaint Lindsborg, KS. Her work conveys the emotional starkness and overall feeling of sublime decay and openness. The muted colors, oxidizing metal, singular building structures and what appears to be undersea vegetation or something adrift from a long-forgotten inland sea, all fit cohesively in the quiet spaces of the Mercer. Pieces like Vertebrea and Spinus have the same quiet complexity and overall oeuvre of her several fiber pieces that are more than illustrations of a place. They live and breath the soul and sublimity of the prairies. The quiet strength that comes from a place so seemingly simple, whose beauty is a complexity that requires investigation.
Virginia Says of her work:
“My work examines both the physiological and psychological implications of this natural, difficult, yet requisite progression that our minds and bodies endure. I investigate the massive ambiguities, inconsistencies, and challenges inherent to these transitions. I witness the daily frustrations, fears, grief, and impotence that occur with aging and illness while acknowledging the concurrent, amazing human determination, resolve and grace.”
It’s a worthy respite for reflection and contemplation.
We were lucky enough to have Virginia visit the Gallery and Clay Lab on the 4th of December for a slip dip workshop and gallery talk. Virginia’s enthusiasm for her work is marvelous. Studying with her must be a treat. In her gallery talk she described the beauty of the stark Kansas landscape. Most people consider Kansas and Nebraska to be “fly over” states. These are places that most people can’t wait to get past. Our current reputation as a backwards bunch of education-haters and bigots doesn’t help…
But for Virginia McKinney it was love at first site.
Virginia grew up and has lived in many places up and down the east coast. She saw lots of the United States and has lived in what might be considered some of the most gorgeous parts of the country. It was amazing to listen to Virginia talk about the open vistas, the grassy lands and vast skies of rural Kansas like she was describing the most gorgeous landscapes of Yellowstone or the floral variety of Florida. As she spoke, I was encouraged to look more closely at the windswept high plains and consider for a moment just how beautiful empty can be.
It’s true that beauty is everywhere. Particularly if we open our eyes to the lands around us. Virginia Mckinney’s sculptural and fiber visions helps us do this. Her work is magnificently proud and quiet, yet it shouts with inherent urgency. I encourage you to share this beautiful, lonely, rusty desolation in Mercer Gallery through the 12th of February. You won’t be disappointed.
Virginia’s Website is : http://www.virginiamckinneystudios.com/virginiamckinneystudios.com