Virgina A. Groot Foundation

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Ken Little
2001 2nd Place recipient

Bio

Ken Little received an MFA from the University of Utah in 1972. He has maintained an active national profile as an exhibiting and reviewed sculptor for over twenty five years.

His work has been featured in over 35 one person exhibitions at prestigious venues such as: The Washington Project for the Arts, Wash. DC; The Nelson Gallery of the Univ. of California at Davis; The Forum for Contemporary Art, St. Louis; Diverse Works in Houston; The Honolulu Academy of the Arts; and many others.

His work has been featured in over 200 group exhibitions at institutions like: The Contemporary museum in Honolulu, Hawaii; The Contemporary Art Museum in Houston, Texas; The Seattle Art Museum in Seattle, Washington; The Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC; The Newport Harbor Art Museum in Newport Beach, California; The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston; The Oakland Museum in Oakland, California; The Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond Virginia, and many others.

His work has been reviewed in numerous national publications including "Art in America", "Art Week", "The New Art Examiner", "ArtSpace", and "Sculpture" magazines. He has been reviewed in local newspapers including: The Washington Post, the Fort Worth Star Telegram, The Sacramento Bee, the Seattle Sun, and others. His work has also been featured in numerous catalogs and the subject of two monographs: Ken Dawson Little: a catalog of works, 1983 by Susan Havens Caldwell and Ken Dawson Little: A Bestiary of Damaged Goods, 1986 Dave Hickey.

Little has been the recipient of many prizes, honors, and grants including two major individual Artist Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1982 and 1988; The Arts Industry Grant from the Kohler company in 1988 and 1996; the Mid America Art Alliance Sculpture Fellowship in 1985; the Penny McCall Foundation's Visual Fellowship in 1991 and others. He has received seven Faculty Research Development grants at various institutions including the Univ. of Montana, the Univ. of Oklahoma and four from UTSA in 1990,1993,1997, and 2001.

Since 1993, he has maintained a studio in a warehouse building that he owns in downtown San Antonio. He is an advocate for contemporary art in south Texas, renting studio space to 8 other artists. From 1994 to 1999 he directed Rose Amarillo, a 1500 square foot alternative exhibition space showing the work of local and national artists. His work in various media has been shown extensively in south Texas at such venues as ArtPace, a Foundation for Contemporary Art in San Antonio where he was awarded a residency in the International Artist in Residency Program during 1995. From 1989 to 1995 he was a board member of The Blue Star Art Space also in San Antonio. His work is included in many public and private collections around the country. Collections include The Contemporary Art Museum, Honolulu Hawaii, The City of Seattle, The Nelson Gallery of the University of California at Davis, Microsoft Corporation, Seattle and many others.

Statement

As early as I can remember, I knew that I wanted to be an artist. That has remained consistent in my life from hand painting china with my grandmother when I was six years old until now at fifty-six as I fabricate lifesize suits and larger than life body parts from $1 bills. My idea of what an artist is and what they do has evolved a lot. When I was a kid I wanted to animate for Walt Disney. As a young man, I wanted to emulate the western artists like Charlie Russell. In college, I learned of Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, Conceptual, Process, and Minimal art. Now I guess it's Postmodernism? I think that I have taken something from all these experiences as well as life and the more popular culture. I've lived on the high flat plains of West Texas and the Lower East Side of Manhattan. I've lived in the mountains of Missoula Montana and in the San Francisco Bay area. Most recently, I have been living in the hill country of south Texas and spending time on the Kona coast of the big island of Hawaii. Artists like Hank Williams, Bob Wills, Thelonius Monk, Buddy Holly, and David Byrne have been as influential on me as Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Beuys, Bruce Nauman, Eva Hesse, and H.C. Westermann, Rudy Autio, William Wiley, Robert Arneson, and Jim Nutt are some of my close influences. John Buck, Donald Lipski, Terry Allen, Luis Jimenez, Nancy Rubens, Hiroki Morinoue, Pat Schuchard, Deborah Butterfield, and Robert Brady are some of my contemporaries.

My work reflects a need to invent and evolve. I like to move through things and onto others and then come back through again in a new way. I was a ceramic sculptor for about ten years. In about 1980, I made the transition to using a number of media making sculpture, installations and performances. My work has almost always been figurative in one way or another. Readings have run the gamut from the literal autobiographical to more universal ruminations on themes from the world of ideas.

I work with my hands and my head. Really, I guess, in a sort of antique way. I usually don't know where I am going or exactly what I am going to make until I establish some sort of dialog between my process or materials and my ideas or subject matter. I can't really say that one comes before the other. In fact, when things are working best, I am really transported somewhere else doing something that I could never have imagined or planned.

I've been lucky. I've shown my work at some great places. I've met some amazing people, some of who are my good friends. I've had some terrific students, thirty years of them. Many of them have gone on to be important artists and almost all of them are friends, too.

During my career as an artist, I have made lots of different things out of different materials with different processes. I have made ceramic furniture, tools and life-sized figures. I have worked through ceramics and mixed media to installations, performance, and objects made from all kinds of stuff. There have been bears made of shoes and boots, deer made of roadmaps, automobiles from dictionary pages, houses from Bible pages and charcoal briquettes. There have been suits and dresses sewn from $1 bills, masks in bronze, hands in neon, ladders made into buildings, and cast iron feet. This new body of work builds on my past explorations with suited, and oversized body parts (heads, hands, and feet)which are made of $1 bills over lightweight steel and hardware cloth armatures. This exhibition will open in the summer of 2003 at the Southwest School for Art and Craft in San Antonio and tour nationally for 2-3 years.

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