Campus News

UB professor presents social impact art through TED platform


Published October 22, 2020

Matt Kenyon.
“I’m hoping that my work will inform environmental policy and inspire creative forms of resistance. Also, vote. ”
Matt Kenyon, associate professor
Department of Art

UB art professor Matt Kenyon says his works “Tide” and “Cloud” address the intersection of climate change and the housing crisis, bringing metaphors from banking and real estate back to a human scale.

“I’m hoping that my work will inform environmental policy and inspire creative forms of resistance,” says Kenyon, associate professor and director of the graduate program in the Department of Art, College of Arts and Sciences, who also is a TED fellow. “Also,” he adds, “vote.”

“Tide” and “Cloud” are among 10 public art works created by artists and TED fellows in 10 cities around the world to kick off and raise awareness for “Countdown,” a TED Talks-affiliated global initiative that aims “to champion and accelerate solutions to the climate crisis, turning ideas into action.”

Kenyon is in good company. “Countdown,” which launched on Oct. 10, featured more than 50 speakers — Jane Fonda, Al Gore, Don Cheadle and Prince William, to name a few — who discussed science innovations and research-backed ideas in passionate and inspiring talks.

He presented “Tide” and “Cloud” during a livestream via TED’s YouTube channel. The full program and videos are available on the “Countdown” website.

“2020 has been an incredibly dark and difficult year,” Kenyon says. “I am grateful to have the community of the TED fellows to share ideas and artwork with — Christine Sun Kim, Sarah Sandman and LaToya Ruby Frazier are all wonderful artists and humans.”

“Tide” and “Cloud” were both created within Kenyon’s SWAMP (Studies of Work Atmosphere and Mass Production) art practice, which focuses on critical themes addressing the effects of global corporate operations, mass media and communication, military-industrial complexes and general meditations on the liminal area between life and artificial life.

“Tide” and “Cloud” can be seen in person at the Big Orbit Project Space of CEPA Gallery, 30 Essex St., Buffalo, as part of an exhibition of Kenyon’s recent work titled “The Wolf at the Door.” Hours are 1-5 p.m. on Saturdays, through Nov. 14. Admission is free.

Kenyon was selected as a TED follow in 2015, when he gave a talk, “A Secret Memorial for Civilian Casualties,” about his work, “Notepad.” Since then, the talk has garnered over 860,000 views, while the transcript has been translated into 25 languages.  

His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally in such venues as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, MOCAD Detroit, Science Gallery Dublin, Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona and the International Print Center.

Kenyon is a MacDowell fellow and his award-winning work has been featured in The New York Times, Wired and Gizmodo, with appearances in edited volumes such as “A Touch of Code” (Gestalten Press) and “Adversarial Design” (MIT Press).