Kenny Rivero

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What is my work about?

My hope with the work that I produce is to offer an intimate opportunity to reflect on hope, loss, and memory. Through my practice, I investigate the relationships between these ideas through coded gestures based both in certainty and fiction.
The process of inventing narratives in order to justify, come to terms with, or suffer in the denial of personal, collective and historical traumas is what generates the stories I tell through painting, drawing, and sculptural installation. My goal as a maker is to find the truth in my experience of the world, truths that reality fails to address effectively.


Artist Statement

I make paintings, drawings, I assemble sculptures and installations, and above all I am invested in telling stories. The narratives are based both in reality and in fiction.

In the paintings and drawings, I collapse spaces, figures, and geographies in such a way that allow for a fluidity of space and time, and a flexibility between what is real and what is not. In the sculptures and installations, I spatially manage and assemble domestic material, and various collections of my own detritus, in order to physically access the worlds that I am referencing in the two dimensional work.

Although the work I have included in this application does not embody the entire range of what I produce, I am offering this collection of paintings and drawings as the clearest representation of the content my practice is currently negotiating.

Materially, the surface accumulations, patinas, and the historical aura of reclaimed material allow me to reflect on the past (my own and that of others), and engage with it in a tangible way.

I have collections of salvaged material that eventually become collage elements in my paintings and the supports for my drawings. In reclaimed material I’m interested in how the energies and identities contained by certain objects and surfaces can come together to form new things with new pasts and flexible futures.

The accumulation of paint resulting from the restoration of public and domestic spaces, discarded industrial material, or the salvaged blank pages from old books, are catalysts for the painting-objects I make and the stories I tell. As a child, I would intentionally hack away at my bedroom wall to reveal evidence of the apartment’s past lives and imagine the stories linked to the colors I would find. Paint chips from the apartment I grew up in are a common material in my work and my practice owes a great deal to the physical evidence of history and memory.

My goal is to excavate and reconstruct the histories and identities I have been conditioned to understand as absolute, in order to develop new ways to intimately engage the world. I explore ideas of Dominican-American identity, socio-geographic solidarity, cultural and familial expectations, race, and masculinity. I am also interested in how these various cultural and social vantage points inform my role, historically, as an artist making images.

The work included in the portfolio was not made to directly relate to one another, though the sequence of images is loosely informed by the stages of The Hero’s Journey, or the Monomyth, an idea introduced by Joseph Campbell in The Hero of A Thousand Faces (1949). In Campbell’s description of the concept,

A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.

Beginning with El Pique, I detail the frustrations and resentments I’ve developed as a result of simultaneously being and becoming American. In it, I offer a vignette in to how I learned baseball’s history and it’s practice in a physical space not necessarily conducive to athletic activity, the street.

Following are works such as The Fire Next Time, Shadow on a Wall, It Happened on the Corner, The Church is Empty and Child on Sidewalk, all which focus on loss, the presence of spirits, and my relationship to family and friends who have passed away. I created these works, in part, reflecting on the current cultural climate regarding black bodies in America and the police who purport to protect them.

Other works in this portfolio include Turn Into the Bat With Your Eyes Turnt Back, Magic City (Oh City My City), Hombre Murcielago, and Grand Wizard Wayne, which are part of an ongoing series that offers an autobiographical take on the history of Batman. In my version, the Batman narrative originates in the Dominican Republic in 1901 and ends with the renaming of New York City, to Gotham City, in 1999. In this story, Batman is not a person but rather an ancient energy that can be conjured, manipulated, stored, and possessed.

In recreating the history of Batman, I am attempting to insert myself in a popular narrative that has always felt geographically and philosophically relevant to my life, but that I never actually saw myself reflected in. Through this revamping, I address several things such as the politics of wealth and status as it relates to race and class, Afro-Diasporic systems of faith, and the cultural and economic exchanges between the Dominican Republic and New York.

I end the collection with The Young Lord (The Mighty Abstract), which depicts a young individual who has achieved ultimate vision, ultimate perspective.

Scattered throughout are moments where I make allusions to other paintings by artists who deal with content in similar ways. For instance, Homage to Homage features a series of squares made in the same manner and system as Josef Albers’ famous color study series. The Fire Next Time, the title being an allusion to James Baldwin book of the same name, features a small moment that is taken directly from a Stuart Davis painting entitled Jefferson Market. The most obvious painting reference can be found in Lonche with the Grass, as it is a riff on The Luncheon on the Grass by Édouard Manet. In The Church is Empty I borrow a staircase directly from a Philip Guston painting entitled Gladiators, which is a painting I think of often.



Yale University School of Art, New Haven, CT
MFA, Painting and Printmaking


School of Visual Arts, New York, NY
BFA, Honors, Fine Art


Solo Exhibitions
5 and 7 or 12, The Study at Yale, New Haven, CT

We’ll Take Manhattan, P.S.122 Classroom Gallery, 2010 New York, NY[1]

We Fight but First We Dance, Go Fish Gallery, New York, NY[2]

I Can Be A King, Home of the artist, New York, NY
Special One Person Site-Specific Installation Projects

Supermane and the Hidden G, AC Institute, New York, NY

I Can Love You Better, Shin Gallery, New York, NY


Selected Group Exhibitions
TXT: Art, Language, Media, The Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art and Storytelling, New York, NY (forthcoming)
The Fire Next Time, Leyendecker Gallery, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
Consequential Translations, Centro Cultural de España, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Contemporary Auction, Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis, MO
Long Story Short, curated by Karin Bravin, Trestle Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
Pagina, Antica Libreria Cascianelli, Curated by Peter Hristoff, Rome, Italy
Slo Jamz, 109 Ingraham, Brooklyn, NY

NURTUREart Annual Benefit, invited by Ian Cofre, The Boiler, Brooklyn, NY
Novella Gallery 2nd Annual Benefit, Novella Gallery, New York, NY
In Sheep’s Clothing, curated by Dexter Wimberly, Gallery 220, Brooklyn, NY
Start “Art Within Reach”, C.A.M. Gallery, Istanbul, Turkey
Discernable Regularities, Collar Works, Troy, NY
Soul, Novella Gallery, New York, NY
Paintingwall (Janus at 8:16), Touch Gallery, Cambridge, MA
Do the Yale Thing, curated by Dexter Wimberly, N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art, Detroit, MI
Things Still Left Unsaid, Stephen Stoyanov Gallery, New York, NY

Novella Gallery Inaugural Benefit, Novella Gallery, New York, NY
For Ed: Splendor in the Grass with Olympic Lad & Lass, Yale University Greene Gallery, New Haven, CT
Some New Work in an Abandoned Apartment, 353 Cornelia Street, Brooklyn, NY
La Bienal: Here is Where We Jump, El Museo del Barrio, New York, NY
Show #5, The Parlour, Brooklyn, NY

Priene Hali Benefit Auction, School of Visual Arts, New York, NY
Untitled group show, curated by Jacob Robichaux for Clifford Chance US LLP, New York, NY
Inaugural Exhibition, ConnCat Center for Arts and Technology, New Haven, CT
The Everything That Stored the Boy, Bump Storage, New York, NY
Eyes Off the Flag, Koki Arts and Motus Fort Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
Yale MFA Thesis Exhibition, Yale University Greene Gallery, New Haven, CT

Buy What You Love, Rema Hort Mann Foundation, New York, NY
301, La Casa Cultural at Yale University, New Haven, CT
Bosch Young Talent Show, co-curated by William Villalongo, Stedelijk Museum, s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands
Naked Time, The Wall/353 Crown St, New Haven, CT
To/From: 2nd Year MFA Show, Yale University Greene Gallery, New Haven, CT
College Arts Association Exhibition, Hunter College Times Square Gallery, New York, NY

1st Year MFA Show, Yale University Greene Gallery, New Haven, CT

Octet, Pera Museum, Istanbul, Turkey

Roger Carmona and Kenny Rivero, Gallery Fofo, Rahway, NJ

Fresh Ingredients, The Zed Gallery, Miami, FL

Constructivismo 2006, curated by Libertad o Guerra, Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center, New York, NY
12.16.06, (I-20 gallery) 529 w20th street, New York, NY

I am Who I Am, curated by Gunars Prande, Galerie Atelier Herenplaats, Rotterdam, Netherlands


Visiting Scholar​ ​at the Steinhardt School of Education, Culture, and Human Resources, New York University, New York, NY

Robert Schoelkopf Memorial Travel Grant, Yale University, New Haven, CT
Doonesbury Award, Yale University, New Haven, CT


The Fountainhead Residency, Miami, FL (forthcoming)

Roswell Artist in Residence Program, Roswell, NM

Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Workspace Program, New York, NY


Yale School of Art, MFA Painting & Printmaking 2012, Designed by Jen Lee and Andrew Lister, Essay by Anne Pfeiffer, Lulu Press

Bosch Young Talent Show 2011, s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, Designed by Studio Kluif, essay written by William Villalongo

Octet: Selected Works From The School of Visual Arts, Printed and Designed by the School of Visual Arts, 2009


Selected Bibliography
Art in Fact, Art Party February, Editors, February 16, 2015
The New York Observer, Your Guide to a very Art World Valentine’s Day, written by Brianna McGurren, February 11, 2015, Glimpsed Curiosities: The Boyhood New York of Kenny Rivero, written by Amieé Brown Price, February 8, 2015
The L Magazine, Kenny Rivero, “I Can Love You Better, written by Paul D’Agostino, January 28, 2015
Time Out New York, Kenny Rivero, “I Can Love You Better”, written by Jennifer Coates, January 15, 2015
Remezcla, 3 Can’t Miss Art Exhibits This Week, written by Barbara Calderón-Douglass, December 8, 1014
The Times Union, Artists Explore Pattern, written by Amy Griffin, July 16, 2014, ‘Do The Yale Thing’ at N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art Detroit, written by Jim Welke, March 4, 2014, The Colossus of East Harlem, written by Raul Zamudio, for La Bienal 2013: Here is Where We Jump at El Museo del Barrio, July, 2013
The Village Voice, Highlights from El Museo del Barrio’s very cool Biennial Exhibition, written by Araceli Cruz, June 12, 2013
Yale Daily News, Exhibit Honors Manet, written by Helen Rouner, October 17, 2013
The New Yorker, Goings On About Town: El Museo del Barrio’s Bienal 2013: Here is Where We Jump, Editors, July 29, 2013
The New York Times, A Constellation of Identities, Winking and Shifting: El Museo del Barrios’ Bienal 2013′ Explores Self and Origins, written by Holland Cotter, June 14, 2013
Yale Daily News, La Casa Transforms into art space, written by Urvi Nopany, November 9, 2011
Yale Daily News, Students take over prof’s office, written by Eliza Brooke, November 19, 2010, Bushwick Artist Profile: Kenny Rivero, written by Mimi Luse, May 4 2009
PBS Thirteen/WNET, Latino Americans of NY/NJ, air date: September 17, 2013, Complete Video
PBS New Mexico/KNME, ¡Colores!, air date: April 4, 2014, Link to Complete Video

Academic and Institutional Engagements


Visiting Artist, Steinhardt Department of Art and Education, New York University, New York, NY
Visiting Artist, Williams College, Williamstown, MA

Guest Critic, Mason Gross School of Arts, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NY
Visiting Artist, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, New York, NY

Artists Talk Story Line, Panel Discussion, El Museo del Barrio, New York, NY
Freshly Minted, Panel Discussion, School of Visual Arts Theater, New York, NY
Juror for the Dedalus and Rothko Competition, Department of Education, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY

Visiting Artist, Williams College, Williamstown MA


Teaching Experience
Teaching Artist, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY

Adjunct Faculty, Visual and Critical Studies Department, School of Visual Arts, New York, NY

Gallery-Studio Program Coordinator/Senior Museum Educator, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY

Teaching Artist/Museum Educator, El Museo del Barrio, New York, NY

2010 – 2012
Wurttle Gallery Teacher, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT