Power, memory, and transformation are themes that inform and infuse the sculptures and paintings of self-taught artist Kevin Blythe Sampson, who draws inspiration from African spiritual traditions, African American folklore, the Black Lives Matter movement, and his own family and community’s histories. Join us behind the scenes for a conversation with the artist about his creative practice, current and upcoming projects, and his work featured in the museum’s exhibition American Perspectives Stories from the American Folk Art Museum Collection. A Q&A session with the artist will follow the conversation.
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After registering, you will receive an email confirmation with the Zoom link for joining the program via computer or mobile device at the end of the email under ‘Additional Information’. Please email publicprograms@folkartmuseum.
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Kevin Blythe Sampson is a sculptor, painter, and muralist recognized for tackling difficult issues that concern him and his Newark, New Jersey, neighbors. Born in Elizabeth, NJ, he grew up in a household that was totally committed to civil rights and community concerns, and this continues to be a recurring theme in his work. Kevin’s father, Stephen was a community leader in both Elizabeth and other parts of New Jersey and remains Kevin’s most important role model. A retired police officer, Kevin worked for the city of Scotch Plains, NJ for over 20 years and was the first African American composite sketch artist in the country. Following his retirement from the police force, Kevin taught at the Newark School of Fine and Industrial Art for over 16 years until the school’s closing in 1995. He continues to teach at various art schools and community programs, including Express Newark and Rutgers Paul Robeson Gallery. Kevin has been represented by Cavin-Morris Gallery in New York since 1992, and his work is in the American Folk Art Museum and the Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, among other museum collections. His work has been supported by grants from the Joan Mitchell Foundation, as well as residencies at the Cathedral of St John the Divine (1995), the Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation (1994-95), the John Michael Kohler Art Center (2016), the Joan Mitchell Center (2017), the Mystic Seaport Museum (2018), and most recently, the Mariposa Museum (2020). Kevin was also recently selected as one of the “100 People in Newark” by the 100 People Foundation.
Photos of the artist in his studio courtesy of Cesar Melgar.
Remote public programs are made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).