The art of awareness
Written by lexi turin
Danielle and Kevin McCoy are invested in the experimental.
For the past eleven years, the duo behind WORK/PLAY has seen to creative collaboration across media – from printmaking and minimalist design to illustration and recent endeavors in textiles, their art is a universe of creative exploration. It also serves as a growing record of (and response to) the current racial climate in America.
As part of a recent group exhibition titled ALMOST NOW, JUST THEN… (hosted by projects+gallery), the two presented When Stars Align, a mixed-media assemblage focusing on the treatment of athletes as voiceless commodities. The collection features “Dear Colin,” the framed jersey of Colin Kaepernick – battered, stained, and burnt.
“You like them when they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing,” says Kevin. The tattered jersey stands as the silenced voice of a man holding space for political resistance – a man reduced to object, paid only to play and entertain.
For WORK/PLAY, their art serves to illuminate cultural issues and the experiences lived by people of color in the United States (those which are most subject to erasure throughout history).
Danielle (a self-taught conceptual artist) explains that the content’s focus is “not always struggle,” and shows, too, an interest in cultivating belonging through the creation of safe spaces. The pair’s interest in the process of transformation applies to both their experimentation with unconventional media (i.e. silk-screening a print using tar, in reference to racial slander) and their view of their work’s trajectory long-term.
“It will change and then change again,” says Kevin, whose background is in graphic design.
Both are looking to expand their reach of knowledge for future projects, with Kevin to complete an MFA at Washington University and Danielle beginning research relating to dye processes and indigo’s history as a cash crop.
The current stage of WORK/PLAY’s production still leaves “more digging” to be done along the way, though. For Kevin and Danielle, the process revolves around tending to “a deep wound” carried by society—their work attempting to visually communicate both pain and the process of healing. Theirs is a media curated for the spirit: an open channel of energy receptive to this time and space, both a look back and movement forward.