Emmett Kerrigan received his BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute in 1993. He also attended summer programs at Chautauqua School of Art and The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He has shown extensively throughout the Midwest, including a solo exhibition at the Elmhurst Art Museum in 2010. His work can be found in numerous prestigious corporate collections, including Wellington Management, Kirkland & Ellis, The Sandor Family Collection, amongst others. He is currently working on a 50-foot installation for Eaton Corporation’s new world headquarters in Cleveland.
While Kerrigan continues his focus on the iconic constructs of the Midwestern landscape, after having explored the Midwestern farmscape and industrialscape in prior bodies of work, he now focuses on views of the cityscape and his thoughts and feelings regarding his home and the surrounding neighborhood. Maneuvering adeptly between sculpture and painting, Kerrigan rebuilds the world around him, adroitly utilizing a visual language suited for a child’s comprehension and enjoyment, an innocent who can view the world simplistically and with a purity of vision, still oblivious to such tragedies as the housing crisis.
In the four large-scale paintings and the forty-eight, 12” x 12”, nearly eatable, cake-like gems on display, only the exterior facades of the buildings, houses and factories are portrayed, while the notion of human life is implied. Bold and graphic, but full of nuance and detail, each architectural element is set against peaceful blue skies, thus transforming a city of blight into light and positivity. Using his trademark impasto painting style, Kerrigan’s paintings are pushed into a 3-dimensional sculptural rendering. From brick to brick, stone to stone, tree-to-tree, line-to-line, there is such an extravagant and intoxicating variation of color and depth, more honed and obsessive in this work than any before, it is evident that Kerrigan is transported into a deep and meditative place with every mark he makes.
In contrast to his forty-eight paintings in Home Sweet Home in which many of the housing styles are purposely repeated, though in some part ironically reinforcing the idea of actual uniqueness, Kerrigan builds a neighborhood, block by block, out of extremely well-crafted pieces of salvaged wood he has found throughout the city. These objects are full of personality and character, simultaneously quaint and elaborate. Made to conjure up the notion of children’s building blocks, the pieces are piled and held together by form and balance. Other wall reliefs, like Flag 1 and Flag 2 –are comprised of individually sculpted wood houses represented in their most basic form. Embedded in all the work are the never-ending tales of its inhabitants – the essence of Middle America and the working class. Each piece sings with a pride and appreciation for the people they represent, as Kerrigan pays homage to his beloved city. Yet it is always Kerrigan’spainstaking labor that amplifies the manmade individuality of each edifice and his respect, value and gratitude for its inspiration and gifts.
312 218 6460
© 2011 Emmett Kerrigan