July 30 – September 14, 2022
Roll Up Project is pleased to present drawings and a site-specific installation by Kathryn Kenworth. Kenworth examines consumer culture through a multimedia practice that spans sculpture, collage, and drawing. She has utilized recycled cardboard as a sculptural medium for over a decade. She sees it as a way to honor and examine a consumerist material that is generally disregarded and swiftly tossed in the recycling bin.
In Stores Now fills the window on Harrison Street. It is based on the installation Lowest Prices in Town, which was displayed in the former Merrill’s drugstore windows in Downtown Napa in 2011. Taking cues from current events, she created a new selection of cardboard products featuring items traditionally marketed to women. The phrases “Your health is our business” and “Your choice is in our hands” flank the display, echoing the bland ad-speak often seen in store windows and weekly circulars. As the viewer moves from beauty products – vanity mirrors, hairbrushes, and makeup kits – to pregnancy tests and clothes hangers, the phrases begin to take on a more sinister tone. Domestic objects traditionally linked with “women’s work,” such as dishwashing soap, gloves, and an iron also fill the shelves. Carefully formed and unadorned with brightly colored labels and logos, they act as symbols more than products.
The phrase “Your health is our business” could be interpreted two ways: a business as an act of service to the community, or as a vague implication of control over a consumer’s health options. “Your choice is in our hands” removes any doubt as to the meaning, reminding viewers that choices can easily be limited by the options provided. As the country grapples with the overturning of Roe v. Wade, Kenworth’s installation is a call to action, to consider the bigger picture of who holds control, how we consume, and how choices are influenced.
A selection of charcoal drawings titled Hot Buys fill the windows on Third Street. Here, Kenworth distills everyday products into generic silhouettes covered in fingerprints. Blocky lettering labels each object: “odor control,” “laundry soap,” “lip stick,” and more. While these objects might be considered utilitarian necessities to some, Kenworth pairs them together to create new meanings and lifts them up for closer examination of how we connect with these goods when they are not imbued with the marketing messages of specific brands.
In light of the shipping delays, shortages, and panic-buying encountered during the pandemic, Kenworth’s sculptures and works on paper encourage us to think about consumerism through a new lens. What is our relationship to consumption, who controls the ability to obtain necessities, and how can we shape the options available to future generations?
About the Artist
Kathryn Kenworth’s sculptures, installations, collages, and social practice projects explore the role of the consumer. She received an BFA at the University of Colorado, Boulder and an MFA at Mills College. Her work has been exhibited locally at Kala Art Institute, Chandra Cerrito Gallery, Southern Exposure, Gallery Route One, and Artists Television Access, among others. She has been an artist in residence at The MacDowell Colony (Peterborough, NH), SculptureSpace (Syracuse, NY), Bundanon (North Nowra, Australia) and Headlands Center for the Arts (Sausalito, CA). Kenworth has received grants from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, the Leon Levy Foundation, and the Bay Area Video Coalition. She is an adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco, and lives and works in Oakland, CA.
Learn more about her work at www.kathrynkenworth.com.