Ken Little

Artist Statement

As early as I can remember, I knew that I wanted to be an artist. That has remained consistent in my life from hand painting china with my grandmother when I was six years old until now at fifty-six as I fabricate life-size suits and larger than life body parts from $1 bills. My idea of what an artist is and what they do has evolved a lot. When I was a kid I wanted to animate for Walt Disney. As a young man, I wanted to emulate the western artists like Charlie Russell. In college, I learned of Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, Conceptual, Process, and Minimal art. Now I guess its Postmodernism? I think that I have taken something from all these experiences as well as life and the more popular culture. I’ve lived on the high flat plains of West Texas and the Lower East Side of Manhattan. I’ve lived in the mountains of Missoula Montana and in the San Francisco Bay area. Most recently, I have been living in the hill country of south Texas and spending time on the Kona coast of the big island of Hawaii. Artists like Hank Williams, Bob Wills, Thelonius Monk, Buddy Holly, and David Byrne have been as influential on me as Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Beuys, Bruce Nauman, Eva Hesse, and H.C. Westermann, Rudy Autio, William Wiley, Robert Arneson, and Jim Nutt are some of my close influences. John Buck, Donald Lipski, Terry Allen, Luis Jimenez, Nancy Rubens, Hiroki Morinoue, Pat Schuchard, Deborah Butterfield, and Robert Brady are some of my contemporaries.

My work reflects a need to invent and evolve. I like to move through things and onto others and then come back through again in a new way. I was a ceramic sculptor for about ten years. In about 1980, I made the transition to using a number of media making sculpture, installations and performances. My work has almost always been figurative in one way or another. Readings have run the gamut from the literal autobiographical to more universal ruminations on themes from the world of ideas.

I work with my hands and my head. Really, I guess, in a sort of antique way. I usually don’t know where I am going or exactly what I am going to make until I establish some sort of dialog between my process or materials and my ideas or subject matter. I can’t really say that one comes before the other. In fact, when things are working best, I am really transported somewhere else doing something that I could never have imagined or planned.

I’ve been lucky. I’ve shown my work at some great places. I’ve met some amazing people, some of who are my good friends. I’ve had some terrific students, thirty years of them. Many of them have gone on to be important artists and almost all of them are friends, too.

During my career as an artist, I have made lots of different things out of different materials with different processes. I have made ceramic furniture, tools and life-sized figures. I have worked through ceramics and mixed media to installations, performance, and objects made from all kinds of stuff. There have been bears made of shoes and boots, deer made of roadmaps, automobiles from dictionary pages, houses from Bible pages and charcoal briquettes. There have been suits and dresses sewn from $1 bills, masks in bronze, hands in neon, ladders made into buildings, and cast iron feet. This new body of work builds on my past explorations with suited, and oversized body parts (heads, hands, and feet)which are made of $1 bills over lightweight steel and hardware cloth armatures. This exhibition will open in the summer of 2003 at the Southwest School for Art and Craft in San Antonio and tour nationally for 2-3 years.

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Ken Little - <b>Burn</b>
Ken Little - <b>Pink Doe, 2009, mixed media, 28 x 15 x 20 inches; <b>Big Red Buck</b>, 2007, mixed media, 48 x 24 x 24
Ken Little - <b>Black and White Longhorn</b>, 2007, mixed media, 42 x 61 x 42 inches
Ken Little - <b>Bear</b>, 1987, bronze, 12 x 13 x 15, edition of 10
Ken Little - <b>Desire</b>, 2007, neon/mixed media, 43 x 36 x 4 inches
Ken Little - <b>Doe</b>, 2013, bronze, 7 x 9 x 7 inches, edition of 15
Ken Little - <b>Doe</b>, 1996, bronze, 9 x 4 x 4 inches; <b>Buck</b>, 1996, bronze, 15 x 12 x 5 inches
Ken Little - <b>From (suit coat)</b>, 2004, mixed media/ one dollar bills on steel frame, 39 x 34 x 8 inches; <b>To (blouse)</b>, 2004, mixed media/one dollar bills on steel frame, 32 x 33 x 10 inches
Ken Little - <b>Jackrabbit</b>, 2005, bronze unique casting, 22 x 10 x 12 inches
Ken Little - <b>Red, Black, and White Lion</b>, 2009, found objects/mixed media, 30 x 24 x 24 inches
Ken Little - <b>Soar</b>, 2007, neon/mixed media, 38 x 18 x 4 inches