February 16 - March 23, 2013


Opening Reception


Saturday, February 16, 6-9PM


SMITH ANDERSEN NORTH is pleased to present Klea McKenna: Archipelago. Klea McKenna transforms light-sensitive materials into visual and emotional imprints of place. Whether McKenna gathers the smallest elements of landscape to construct light-reflecting subjects, makes moonlit forays into the Hawaiian forest to capture the silhouettes of massive vegetation on photographic paper, or records the pattern of raindrops, she explores our experience of nature to transform familiar landscapes into strange, abstracted terrain. 


McKenna uses a variety of methods, shooting with hand-made cameras, creating outdoor photograms, and folding film and paper to create sculptural images and installations. This experimental approach yields unlikely images that refer to location and subject only through light and form. The flawed material of the film or paper becomes as visible as the image it has captured. Her work is a literal impression of the world around us.



McKenna grew up in the rural bohemian subcultures of Hawaii and California during the 1980s, and she acknowledges their strong influence on her work. She writes,


"The aesthetics of that time and place - the brilliant colors and elemental shapes - have become a visual language that I return to again and again in my mind's eye and in my work. Our intimate landscapes team with personal and collective histories that animate them and affect the way we inhabit them. These embedded stories are the impetus for my work. The simmering chaos of geological change, the cyclical growth and death of forests, remnants of military land-use, the place you were standing when you first saw ‘him’ - it's all still there, like invisible topography blanketing the land beneath it."


Klea McKenna studied art and photography at Florence Art Institute, UCLA and UC Santa Cruz and received an MFA from California College of the Arts. McKenna's work has been exhibited widely, most recently at Haines Gallery and RayKo Photo Center in San Francisco; Jen Bekman Gallery, Regina Rex and The Center for Photography at Woodstock in New York; and Datz Museum of Art in Seoul, South Korea. In 2011 she was awarded PDN magazine's fine art photography award. She has taught photography at CCA and UC Davis. In 2011 Klea co-founded In The Make: Studio Visits with West Coast Artists (www.inthemake.com) with writer Nikki Grattan.


Klea McKenna lives and works in San Francisco, California.


Click here for more images by Klea McKenna.



Above:  Klea McKenna, Banana Leaves, chromogenic photograms, each 50" x 30 3/4", 2012