This is the 1st solo exhibition for Rhondal McKinney at PDNB Gallery. Although the gallery does not usually show classic landscape subject matter, McKinney’s work is the magical exception.
A native Illinois artist, McKinney grew up driving across the rural plains with his dad. His trips in his father’s truck exposed a compelling vision that proved meaningful in his future work as an artist.
The classical memory of Prairie land envisions an agricultural spread of wheat fields, corn fields as far as the eye can see. Historically this was the place where many pioneers settled, transforming the grasslands almost permanently.
Rhondal organized an important exhibition at the Art Institute in Chicago, Searching for the Landscape in Photographs. The show illustrated the history of the prairie since the invention of photography (1839). Already the plains were scattered sparsely with farmhouses here and there, and rows upon rows of corn and wheat were established.
The idea of natural landscape vs. altered is pondered in his essay of the exhibition catalogue. Artists see beauty in everything, the banal and the majestic. It is the way they interpret the subject that conveys the message to the viewer. This is apparent in the works of like-minded artists: Ed Ruscha, Robert Adams, Garry Winogrand, and Frank Gohlke in the 1970’s. The plowed land can be as majestic a scene as the Grand Canyon.
Rhondal McKinney uses his 8 x 10 camera to gather full detail of his landscape he grew up with. The photographs he makes are contact prints, 8 x 10 inches, that carefully detail the rich and vast heartland. He does not believe in making the images larger, as contemporary artists are prone to do. These images could only be viewed intimately.
Rhondal McKinney is a Professor residing in Bloomington, Illinois. He received his MFA in photography at the University of Illinois, Urbana. His photographs are in major museum collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; the Art Institute of Chicago; The Museum of Modern Art , NY; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. McKinney has exhbited at museums and galleries and institutions since the early 1980’s and has curated several exhibitions related to the Prairie.
Rhondal McKinney, 869,