Mark Gerard McKee is originally a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and his works focus upon perception as well as those experiences that define us as thinking, feeling entities. He has travelled and exhibited extensively both nationally and internationally and his works are in national, corporate and university collections. McKee has served on the board of directors of several arts institutions, including the San Diego Art Institute and the Griffis Arts Center. He earned his Master’s in Fine Art from Lesley University College of Art and Design and attended the Lyme Academy – College of Fine Arts, earning a BFA and receiving that institution’s highest award. McKee has also studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York City and has participated in that institution’s Master’s Artist Residency. He teaches studio art at Eastern Connecticut State University. Mark Gerard McKee is Co-Founder/Director/Curator of MS17 Art Project, an alternative exhibition space in New London Connecticut for “…creative initiatives, artistic innovation, and an uncompromising commitment to the advancement of Art, Culture and Scholarship.”
Title: “On Bended Knee”
Preferred site or type of site: Preferred sites in which the public, person(s) come(s) in close contact with the installation.
Freedom of speech, dissent, the willingness to make a statement against injustice is the benchmark of an enlighten society. Often what needs to be said is uncomfortable, unpopular; the expression disturbing even contrary to social mores – but nevertheless the speaker feels compelled by an inner voice, moral or political outrage, to make their voice heard, whether by speech or symbolic act.
On Bended Knee is both an exploration of and invitation to participate in that free expression through a public art installation consisting of two to four large doors upon which is represented in images (from current events?) where individuals felt compelled to speak up against injustice through and act that in a non-violent though defiant gesture, i.e. kneeling during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner (National Anthem). The interesting thing about the bended knee statement is that by its very nature, this gesture is one that is a submissive and distinctly non-violent and as such is all the more powerful.
The figures on the doors show individuals, man and woman, on bended knee, head bowed in humility. In place of the faces are mirrors, thus when pedestrians encounter the installation they see themselves as a participant, whether or not by choice.
The installation should ideally be placed in an outdoors, public space with much foot traffic, thus facilitating interaction with the installation. Likewise, the public is free to touch the installation. It is fabricated of sturdy materials and is weather resistant.