The second artist to be featured in Artpace’s year-long WindowWorks tribute to past residents, Ken Little’s (Winter 1995) sculptures explore the symbolic connotations of varying and somewhat unorthodox materials. Items of taxidermy modeled by leather apparel, articles of clothing tailored from dollar bills, a house walled by the pages of a bible…his work questions the identity of the subject by replacing its literal surface with a symbolic one. As he assembles these objects, the symbolic meanings clash with each other and with the whole of the sculpture, setting into motion a cycle of reinvention that attacks the viewer with a multitude of possible meanings. Little’s guiding aesthetic is an act of constant questioning, one that redefines his sculptures in their entirety, from the smallest individual object to the very essence of their subject.
“It’s Not Nine One One, 2010, follows a body of work I began in 2006 with an installation in Griffner, Austria. That piece, Homeland Security, was a simple gateless white picket garden fence in the shape of the continental United States. Without gates, there is no way into and no way out of the enclosure, signifying the white picket fence as a symbol of the American dream and the American nightmare. Homeland Security was later featured as part of the Texas Biennial 2009 in Austin, Texas, and is currently installed at HemisFair Park in San Antonio as a companion piece to It’s Not Nine One One.” – Ken Little
The outline image of the American border is iconic: a mixture of natural geological elements such as rivers and coastlines, combined with a Cartesian construction of imagined lines strung across the landscape to separate political, ethnic, and ideological groups. The U.S. border is the legal demarcation of our boundaries, creating citizens, aliens, and immigrants–legal and illegal.
In vibrant blue and red neon, It’s Not Nine One One depicts the outline of “the lower 48” continental states as viewed from Canada; everything appears to be upside–down. The Heartland of America is represented by a heart, also upside–down. This is a perfectly natural view of the U.S., a nation of immigrants. The perception of our border and its protection or its vulnerability depends upon which side of the line you find yourself on.
About the Program
Organized in Artpace San Antonio’s Main Avenue windows, WindowWorks projects activate the art viewing experience from the sidewalk level, extending the dialogue about contemporary art beyond traditional gallery spaces.
Ken Little would like to thank Matthew Drutt, Riley Robinson, and the entire Artpace staff, Heimo Wallner, Austria (where Homeland Security was first commissioned and exhibited), and Cathy Cunningham Little, who collaborated on the design and fabrication of the neon for It’s Not Nine One One.
This exhibition is supported in part by The Cultural Collaborative, a division of the City of San Antonio’s Office of Cultural Affairs. The exhibition of Homeland Security by Ken Little was organized and sponsored by Artpace San Antonio in collaboration with Public Art San Antonio.