Up Close with NYSRP Alumna Kenyatta A. C. Hinkle

Kenyatta A. C. Hinkle
The Huntress
mixed media

Jenkins Johnson Gallery, New York will be presenting “Say It Isn’t So…,” the New York debut of critically acclaimed contemporary artist and NYSRP alumna, Kenyatta A. C. Hinkle. The opening will be Thursday, January 20th from 6 – 8pm, running through April 5th.

Jenkins Johnson Gallery is located at:

521 West 26th St. 5th Floor
New York, NY


NYSRP: How did you initially hear about the New York Studio Residency Program?

KACH: My best friend Jacolby Satterwhite attended the program and he raved about it being an awesome opportunity that I should take advantage of. I went to his opening when the NYSRP was in Tribeca. I remember being in awe of him being able to have such an awesome studio space in New York and being able to have a fancy show of the work that he did while in residency. It seemed as if his work had taken so many new leaps and bounds and that he was able to discover a new language for his practice and work.

NYSRP: MICA your alma mater, has been a big supporter of the NYSRP through the years. Did you find that your education at MICA worked symbiotically with your educational experience at the NYSRP?

KACH: I have a very independent nature and while at MICA I felt that my independent spirit was nourished from my seizing the opportunity to create my own educational experience through experimenting with various disciplines and mediums. By the time I attended the NYSRP I was like a fish in water ready to explore and combine all of my interests with the luxury of streamlined studio time. I knew that after MICA I wanted to get my MFA in art and I figured that the NYSRP program would prepare me for it and I was so right!

NYSRP: What discoveries did you make in your practice while at the NYSRP? Did the faculty help you to make these discoveries and how?

KACH: I always battled with the duality of wanting to either be a professional studio artist or an arts educator that works within under served communities and schools. While attending NYSRP I also had two jobs as an arts activity specialist with the Police Athletic League (PAL) and Groundwork Inc.. I was able to uphold a rigorous studio practice that explored my personal battles with socio-political issues and also go to work empowering others to do the same with the limited materials and opportunities available to them. Now I am an arts administrator, and a studio artist who also works within the field of Social Practice. I consider my work within undeserved communities and education to be parallel to my work within traditional gallery and museum settings. My multiple roles nourish each other and I would not have been able to figure that out without trying to balance them while at the NYSRP.

My experiences with the faculty opened me up to seeing my work and practice in a powerful light. I still use Dominique Nahas’ words of wisdom as a studio/life mantra. He would always say that “Work comes from work.” He would always talk about the importance for artists to “play.” He also introduced our group to the Brian Eno Oblique Strategies cards. The one that I drew from the deck said: “ Where is the edge? Where does the frame start?” I have the Oblique Strategies app on my phone now and I use it whenever I get stuck with a piece.

Glenn Goldberg inspired me to go all out for a series in which I staged ethnographic portraits in my studio space. I had 100s of pictures and I was afraid to show them at the final exhibition. When I showed them to Glenn he encouraged me to print them big and embrace the investigation that I was trying to dig deeper inside of. I am still working with the concepts that spawned from that work 6 years later.

NYSRP: What general advise do you have for students attending the NYSRP? Practice wise?

KACH: I would advise students to not be afraid to fail, fail, fail and fail some more! Take this opportunity to do something you always wanted to do but was scared of. Explore different materials. Read. Talk to your studio neighbors and take advantage of getting the student rate at all of the museums. Look, look and look some more. Go to openings and show your face!

NYSRP: What was your biggest challenge in moving to NYC to start your career as a professional artist? Did your previous NYSRP experience help you during this transition?

KACH: For the past 5 years I have been living in Los Angeles but while attending MICA in Baltimore my husband and I also had a place in Brooklyn. We were able to do this because our rents were so dirt cheap that they ended up equaling to one New York rent. So I had already had the living in New York experience before I attended the program. Because I was splitting the time between Baltimore and Brooklyn the NYSRP allowed me to stay in New York longer and to have an awesome studio space to focus on building my practice, which was priceless for my emerging career. The network and the opportunity to have a show in New York was phenomenal. It gave me the confidence needed to show in such a high talent saturated place.

NYSRP: What was your favorite non-art related memory while attending the NYSRP?

KACH: I used to love getting a bagel with cream cheese for a dollar from my neighborhood bodega and then catching the A train from Brooklyn to go research at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem.

NYSRP: You have recently shown with other NYSRP alumni in NYC. Do you stay in touch with fellow NYSRP alumni and do you consider this continuing dialogue with your NYSRP community beneficial to your present day experiences?

KACH: Yes. Jacolby Satterwhite, Kianja Strobert and I were recently in the Fore show at the Studio Museum in Harlem. As far as other NYSRP alums Facebook has been a wonderful tool to be able to check in on people and get various invites to functions that they are creating to get their work out in the world. I feel that keeping up with every body is crucial because the NYSRP was such a fruitful experience and it was a chance for us to learn from each other and support our budding practices.

NYSRP: Do you find in your art related experiences, that the NYSRP comes up in conversation often, and how is the NYSRP viewed in your circles?

KACH: I rave about NYSRP all the time. I always talk about the artwork that I saw in New York when I was in the program, the valuable things that I learned about my practice, the sayings that ring in my head from the faculty. It’s all there still traveling with me on my emerging journey as a young artist. When I attended CalArts for grad school a teacher walked in to my studio and asked how did I get so far ahead of everyone. He was impressed with how had such a deep understanding of my practice, working with materials, and my approach to investigating my ideas. I smiled knowing that I had just come off the heels of MICA & NYSRP two amazing places that allowed me to be independent, explore, and have a space to make mistakes.