B. 1954, United States
Kevin Sampson was raised in Elizabeth, New Jersey as the son of a civil rights leader. He initially trained and joined the New Jersey police force as a sketch artist. He served for eighteen years, ten with police sketching. A series of family tragedies eventually propelled him to heal himself with making art. Kevin Sampson's work is made of reworked and transformed found objects including cement, bones, tiles, fabric and various painting mediums including acrylics, oils and stains. These objects, the bones, the tiles, the tiny specks and leftovers from day-to-day living, are poetic archaeological elements that he sees as part of a conceptual vocabulary of impermanence and memory. In his works one gets the feeling of a barely-harnessed, dangerous energy, crackling with political, religious, and racial apprehension. His subjects are the people that he has known; people who had been part of this world; and people who have lived lives that he thought ought to be remembered. By constructing sculptures of physical memory inspired by Caribbean and American Southern styles, he builds works that are about family in all forms. They are at once political and intimate, frightening and freeing.
Sampson's work has been exhibited at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center (Sheboygan, WI), Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art (Chicago), Newark Museum of Art, Museum of American Art, Winston-Salem, and was included along with Lonnie Holley, Mr. Imagination, and Charles Lucas in The Roots of Spirit at the 54th Venice Biennale (2011).