Q: How has the global pandemic changed the meaning of your work?
A: The current health and political crisis has further validated my inquiry into the interconnectedness of things including living systems, the built environment and human relationships. People are connecting with the work for what it examines about ourselves. I’ve been making invented cells, organisms, bacteria and cancers. This exploration of wonder, beauty, reason, evolution, healing, aging, and death gives me hope that creativity and intelligence will prevail over the greed and ignorance destroying species biodiversity. What puzzles me today is the science deniers occupying our nation’s White House and Senate. My big question is, what will we learn from this?
Q: How has your studio practice been affected?
A: Mostly positively. As my studio is at home, I haven’t had access issues. Social distancing has afforded me more time to work without distractions. I am using materials in inventory to avoid outside contact with people and reducing the need for service workers to enter harm’s way. Taking a quote from Leo Tolstoy’s diary, “I have let myself go and am less strict with myself”. As I enjoy talking about art, I miss studio visits with friends, colleagues and curators. I miss museum and gallery visits which help feed my head and soul in ways that online experiences fall short.
Q: How will your creative practice be affected in the long-term by the pandemic?
A: I have become more sensitive to the plight of others who have been negatively affected by the pandemic, particularly social justice inequities. These concerns will further be addressed in my self-examining and creative work. This includes political, physical, mental and spiritual issues, many of which have been ignored by the white privileged class, a category that I both inhabit and need to address head on, every day. Artists can be critical change-makers and now is the time for systematic reform. Sadly, cultural institutions and the voices of cultural workers have been diminished and many will not financially survive. This hurts.
Kent Manske creates images and symbols to inquire, process, manage, convey and assign meaning to ideas about human existence. He uses printmaking and book publishing processes to create one-of-a-kind and limited-edition works on paper. Manske has a BFA from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire and an MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1992 he co-founded PreNeo Press in Redwood City, California. His work can be found in public and private collections including the San Francisco Fine Arts Museums and the Oakland Museum of California.